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Apprenticeship in England, United Kingdom

image of Apprenticeship in England, United Kingdom

One of a series of studies on vocational education and training, this review focuses on the apprenticeship system in England and concludes with policy recommendations.

England has launched a series of reforms that champion the institution of apprenticeship, and address some previous weaknesses. The reforms encourage more substantive apprenticeship programmes and a stronger funding framework. Despite these strengths, there is still some way to go to establish an apprenticeship system in England to match those of the strongest countries.

This report suggests several ways in which reforms might be adapted to achieve higher quality and better outcomes. An effective apprenticeship system involves various elements such as the development of the apprentice in the workplace by the employer and the broader education of young apprentices. The report argues that England should consider introducing regulations and standards to ensure that these elements are part of all apprenticeship programmes, and that the recently introduced apprenticeship levy supports high-quality training. In comparison to other countries, England has relatively few young apprentices. The report suggests England could facilitate transition from school to work by making better use of apprenticeships targeting school leavers.

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Assessment and recommendations

This first chapter describes the main characteristics of English apprenticeship in comparison with those of other countries. In England, apprenticeships are much shorter than in many countries and many current apprentices are incumbent workers. England is also distinctive in the lack of emphasis on employer-provided training. This chapter describes the current reforms aiming to expand and improve the quality of apprenticeship. It then sets out an assessment of the direction of reform and the challenges that remain, and summarises the suggestions for policy advanced in depth in later chapters of the report.

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