From September 2004, 14 year olds will be able to enrol for skills training in the new ‘Young Apprenticeships’ scheme. Students will continue their studies following the core national curriculum but they will also spend up to two days a week learning ‘on the job’ skills in a workplace as a part of an industry specific vocational programme. This is a key element of the reform of education for 14 – 19 year olds. Education and Skills Secretary Charles Clarke said: The new ‘Young Apprenticeships’ represents one of the most exciting developments for young people since the introduction of GCSEs in 1986.These changes are being introduced in response to recommendations made by the Modern Apprenticeship Advisory Committee and the Modern Apprenticeship Task Force. Apprenticeships, which were dying a few years ago, have now already risen to 255,500 in England.
Initial opportunities will be in engineering, automotive industries, business administration, logistics, and the arts and creative industries. Prospective trainees will be matched to employers in a clearing house system similar to the that operated for university places. Portability’ arrangements are planned so that an Apprentice can take a part completed Apprenticeship with them if they move employer.
The Learning and Skills Council working with employer organisations will drive forward the new reforms. At present an Apprenticeship is not a recognised qualification in its own right, but it is proposed to award ‘Accredited’ status for those who successfully complete an Apprenticeship. It is also planned to explore the development of credit-based qualifications in Apprenticeships to better meet the needs of employers.