At the beginning of May, I received a link to a blog stating that the future of apprenticeships is in the balance. I sent my reply that I happen to disagree, and here is the reason why.
Apprenticeships are an amazing opportunity for companies to reskill or upskill existing staff to build capacity back into an organisation. Bringing in new apprentices who are adaptable can boost capacity and add fresh energy to your business. Apprentices are a valuable investment for any organisation. We know from companies that we work with, and provide apprenticeships for, in times of difficulty it is often the apprentices who prove to be some of your most valuable employees. Apprentices are often your managers of the future and through your development you will be confident that they have the key skills within your organisation to survive any future impacts on the business.
Apprenticeships as a programme are resilient, an apprenticeship is a particular genre of Vocational Education and Training (VET), taken up in many countries, combining practical and academic learning. Historically, apprenticeships in England date from 1563, when the first formal conditions for an apprenticeship were set out in an Act of Parliament called the Statute of Artificers. A later significant act occurred in 1964 when parliament passed the Industrial Training Act, introducing Industrial Training Boards (ITB), who were responsible for setting the standards for training and governance of apprenticeship programmes. The first levies were introduced, where employers paid their ITB a tax which was used to support employers to provide sufficient numbers of skilled workers to meet their industries’ needs.
In the early 1990s the government devolved funding for training to regional Training and Enterprise Councils (TECs), which had accountability for the success of youth training programmes such as apprenticeships. The regional devolved funding system was dropped in 2001 and the responsibility and funding for skills training moved back under the control of central government.
Over the years the governance for apprenticeship programmes has moved between government departments, quangos and employer groups, but the programme has survived. After the 2012 Richard Review of Apprenticeships the programme changed from Frameworks to Standards, the Institute of Apprenticeships was developed, and programmes moved to being assessed by an independent employer panel through end point assessments.
The point that I am making is that since 1563 apprenticeships have undergone a whole range of governance, funding and structural changes. However, what has not changed is that an apprenticeship offers employers an opportunity to develop employees using a high-quality training programme that can be used to develop their future workforce. The future of apprenticeships is not in the balance, apprenticeships are your opportunity to develop talent and innovate processes to move forward positively out of the Covid-19 lockdown.