Apprenticeship in England, United Kingdom

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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.



Equity and inclusion in apprenticeship in England

Recent reforms of apprenticeship in England have not usually taken equity as an explicit objective, apart from some special measures and targets such as for minority group participation. Instead, the emphasis has been on establishing a high-quality, high status apprenticeship brand, with higher-level apprenticeships. While the objective of these reforms is commendable, they could risk leaving behind some weaker performers who will find it harder to obtain and complete more demanding apprenticeships. This chapter argues that building on the experience of traineeships, England should further explore, in the light of evidence and experience, pre-apprenticeship and alternative apprenticeship programmes that effectively prepare young people to undertake a full apprenticeship, equip them with basic and employability skills, and grant them workplace experience and career advice.


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