The All Party Parliamentary Group on Apprenticeships is calling for pay to be raised to reflect apprentices’ growing level of experience and qualification during their training. It is one of several recommendations in the group’s latest annual report which are all pushing for the apprentice route to be made “attractive to as many people as possible”. The group advocates that young people be better informed about apprenticeships as part of a reformed careers advice service. It also urges more promotion by employers, schools and government of the different types of apprenticeships on offer, particularly degree apprenticeships.
Robert Halfon, the former Conservative apprenticeships and skills minister, is the newly elected chair of the Commons Education Select Committee. He told TES before his appointment that he was “no establishment man”, would challenge colleagues whenever necessary and had applied for the post because of his genuine passion for education and skills. While minister for just under a year, he oversaw key changes in the FE sector, including introduction of the apprenticeship levy.
More than 260 secondary schools and colleges in 12 English ‘opportunity areas’ will have access to a local senior business volunteer (enterprise adviser). The national Careers and Enterprise Company is to collaborate with 40 national and local ‘cornerstone’ employers in a £2m scheme (announced in outline in January this year) that is designed to prepare students from colleges and schools for the workplace.
The DfE says advisers will work with headteachers and college principals to unlock local business relationships and advise them on their careers programme. The opportunity areas comprise Blackpool, Bradford, Derby, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich, Norwich, Oldham, Scarborough, Stoke on Trent and West Somerset.
The quality of careers guidance is condemned by 84% of companies in the 2017 CBI/Pearson Education and Skills survey. Just over a third (35%) of respondents say there is too little guidance on how to make work experience really benefit young people. 50% find young people don’t understand the type of education they need to enter particular careers, while just under half say existing careers advice does not reflect the needs of individual sectors and that this leads to skills shortages.
In addition, despite the creation of new apprenticeships, almost two thirds (63%) say they will use the apprenticeship levy to reconfigure existing training programmes, while 27% say they will reduce non-apprenticeship training to help meet levy costs.