Not all apprenticeships are created equal

The skills gap
The skills gap

More remains to be done, however, as a recent Ofsted report into apprenticeship schemes and how well they meet the needs of young people, employers and the economy was not particularly positive. “Since 2010, an increase in government funding has seen more than two million apprenticeships taken up. However, this surge in numbers has been mainly in sectors such as customer service, retail, administration and care. Unfortunately, these apprenticeships have not sufficiently matched the skills needed by our nation”, it concluded.

The report was keen to stress that the survey evaluated the quality of apprenticeships under existing frameworks and not the revised apprenticeship schemes under the government’s reform programme. Ofsted inspectors found that in a third of the 45 providers visited for the report, the standard of training was not of a sufficient standard. For example, apprentices in the food production, retail and care sectors were observed to be completing their apprenticeship with low-level skills such as making coffee, serving sandwiches or cleaning floors being accredited. The report claimed that these skills, while important, did not add enough long-term value to tacking the skills shortage. In some cases, learners on low-level, low-quality programme did not even know they were on an apprenticeship scheme.