Headlines: July 18th, 2008

Local authorities and other organisations should be doing more to promote the benefits of the programme-led apprenticeship scheme, according to a report today from Ofsted. It found that the
apprenticeships were producing learners who were better prepared for the workplace but that participation in the scheme had declined, leading to concerns that more needed to be done to promote and understand the programme.

The report, ‘The impact of programme-led apprenticeships’, found they were an important alternative to traditional employer-led apprenticeships especially for young people who might find it difficult to gain employment and for those who needed initial ‘upfront training’ before going into an employer-led apprenticeship. The majority of employers were positive about the impact of the scheme and learners were better prepared to meet the challenges of the workplace and were buoyed by greater
confidence, increased skills and knowledge.

In spite of this, today’s report says, participation in the programme fell by 58 per cent from 2005 to 2007. The Learning and Skills Council, the report says, was found to be slow in implementing a strategy for programme-led apprenticeships and in more than half the organisations surveyed, inadequate promotion
had resulted in a lack of understanding of the full potential of the programme and the fall in participation.

Melanie Hunt, Director Learning and Skills at Ofsted, said, “It’s encouraging to find that apprentices and employers were positive about their experience with programme-led apprenticeships. But it is important to ensure that these programmes continue to enable young learners to progress into the workplace.”

She said Ofsted was making some important recommendations and continued, “These include introducing Unique Learner Numbers to improve the collection of data, and greater efforts by local authorities and providers to promote the benefits of this type of apprenticeship. Taking these steps should bring benefits to this clearly valuable programme.”