A BIS report on apprenticeships has concluded that the UK should focus on quality, not just quantity and this has been welcomed by SummitSkills, the sector skills council for building services engineering.
Produced by the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (BIS), the Apprenticeships - Fifth Report is the result of an inquiry that was announced in December 2011. It aimed to investigate a number of issues including the impact of the National Apprenticeship Service, current funding arrangements, whether there is a need for extra funding, the quality of apprenticeships and apprenticeship bonuses.
Published on 6 November, the Committee's findings have been well received by SummitSkills and other organisations.
Chief executive of SummitSkills, Keith Marshall OBE, said: 'We welcome the BIS Select Committee's report on apprenticeships which addresses many issues close to our heart as a sector skills council. We agree with much of what it says, in particular the need to concentrate equally on the quality and not just the quantity of apprenticeships.'
He continued: 'Together with the Holt Review published in the summer and the Richard Review, which we hope to see published later this month, the Select Committee's report will help to create a picture of the general state of apprenticeships and where the UK must direct its attention to secure a successful workforce for the future. The Richard Review should be the last part of the jigsaw and we are looking forward to seeing how our input is reflected in its findings.'
In 2011, the Government invested £1.2 billion in the apprenticeship programme. The Select Committee report welcomes an increase in apprenticeships but is concerned that rapid expansion of the apprenticeship programme could result in a lack of focus.
A key point suggested in the report is that the UK should not be satisfied with only providing entry level apprenticeships and that Government, employers and schools need to be far more ambitious in expanding and delivering higher and advanced apprenticeships.
The Select Committee says in its report: 'While we welcome the expansion in apprenticeship starts, the success of the apprenticeship programme should not be judged by numbers alone. At present, the National Apprenticeship Service's objectives are too heavily weighted on numbers. In the future, the quality of the programme should be seen as an equal priority and should be assessed rigorously.'
Doug Richard, the entrepreneur and founder of School for Startups, is expected to publish his review of apprenticeships this autumn.
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