Doug Richard tackles apprenticeships

Serial entrepreneur, Richard, was asked to advise on how to ensure apprenticeships deliver high-quality training by Education Secretary Michael Gove and the Business Secretary, Vince Cable. His report comes after months of speaking to employers of all sizes as well as academics, apprentices and colleges.

The findings highlight that apprenticeships should be more focused on the needs of employers and should be targeted towards those who are new to a job that requires substantial training.

"Apprenticeships need to be high quality training with serious kudos and tangible value both to the apprentice and the employer." Said Richard. "We need to make sure that apprenticeships are the success story they deserve to be."

Other key points from his report are:

·         Focusing with greater rigour on the outcome of an apprenticeship - what the apprentice can do when they complete their training - and freeing up the process by which they get there. Trusted, independent assessment is key.

·         Recognised industry standards should form the basis of every apprenticeship.  Employers and other organisations with relevant industry expertise should be invited to design and develop new apprenticeship qualifications for their sectors. 

·         All apprentices should reach a good level in English and maths before they can complete their apprenticeship. 

·        Government funding must create the right incentives for apprenticeship training. The purchasing power for investing in apprenticeship training should lie with the employer. 

·         Far greater diversity and innovation in training should be encouraged - with employers and government taking a more active role in safeguarding quality.

The government will now consider Richard's recommendations and will issue a response in the New Year. But both Vince Cable and Michael Gove welcomed the report. "His recommendations will help us to build on the current successes of our apprenticeships programme and tailor a programme which is sustainable, high-quality and meets the changing needs of our economy in the decades to come," said, Cable. While Gove commented, "We must raise the bar on apprenticeships if we are to have a programme fit for the future. It is vital that the qualifications and assessment involved in every apprenticeship are rigorous, trusted, and give employers confidence in the ability of their apprentices."

Other reactions to the report:

Minister for Skills Matthew Hancock said:

"I warmly welcome this impressive report. Apprenticeships have seen much success in recent years, with over a million started since 2010. I am clear that we must focus on driving up the quality of apprenticeships, and on the skills employers need.

"This report by Doug Richard has a clear focus on improving quality and meeting employer need. The recommendations set out clear principles for bringing all Apprenticeships up to the standard of the very best. We welcome the challenge for us, for employers, and for apprentices and potential apprentices of the future."

Alison Wolf, Professor of Public Sector Management at Kings College London and vocational education expert said:

"I'm very encouraged by the recommendations put forward by Doug Richard in his review of apprenticeships.  I believe his proposed changes are of the scale and nature required to turn apprenticeships into a serious option for our most talented school leavers.  As Doug suggests, we must strengthen the quality and credibility of apprenticeships, through rigorous and well respected qualifications. I'm also pleased to see that he is suggesting complete reform of the way Government funds apprenticeships. This is a crucial step if apprenticeships are to deliver the skills employers need, and give enterprises the incentive to deliver high quality training" 

Lord Sainsbury of Turville said:

"There is much to commend in Doug Richard's report.  It's clear focus on outcomes - what a person can actually do at the end of his or her apprenticeship training - is particularly important. For high-tech sectors like science, advanced manufacturing and computing, we need many more apprenticeships which demonstrably meet the skills needs of modern industry.  The new private-sector system of kite-marking high-quality apprenticeships - the Registered Science Technician and Engineering Technician schemes - is the simplest way of pointing young people in the direction of the very best training."

"I look forward to working with government to see how existing kite-marking schemes for apprenticeships can be taken forward to realise Doug's vision of quality-assured training which meets the needs of industry."

Nigel Whitehead, Group Managing Director, BAE Systems plc, said:

"The recommendations are clear and the new, alternative construct described is intuitive, founded on proven principles and stands the important test of sense.  It is a departure from the status quo but one that will deliver a much better outcome."

Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills also welcomed the review saying:

"Apprenticeships are, first and foremost, a job - and as such should be led by employers.  I'm delighted that Doug Richard has so clearly recognised this in his review.  I also welcome the package of recommendations, and the clear understanding that employers must be at the heart of ensuring high-quality and outcome-focused apprenticeships, sharing the responsibility - and reward - for doing so.  Here at the John Lewis Partnership we look forward to working with others to do just that."

Valerie Todd, Director of Talent and Resources at Crossrail, said:

"Here at Crossrail we employ some 120 apprentices, and I am continually impressed - and humbled - by their intelligence, enthusiasm and willingness to learn.  I am very proud of the long and strong apprenticeships we provide and the quality of training which results in a workforce with world-class skills.  I am pleased Doug Richard's review supports this approach, which will strengthen and promote apprenticeships as a credible career pathway."

Graham Spittle CBE, Chairman of the Technician Council said:

"Doug Richard's report challenges all of us to think differently when it comes to apprenticeships.  Only with high-quality, professionally-accredited apprenticeships will the UK be able to train the hundreds of thousands of skilled technicians we need to secure our economic competitiveness in the coming decades. Private-sector-led initiatives, like those being developed by the science, engineering and IT professional bodies, will be vital to realise Doug Richard's vision for higher-quality, higher-status apprenticeships."

Sean Taggart, owner of Albatross Travel and SME skills champion said:

"I am pleased that Doug Richard has recognised the importance of apprenticeships to the individual, the employer and the country as a whole. His recommendations for simplifying and strengthening apprenticeships are particularly welcome, including routing funding through employers and introducing new apprenticeship qualifications to replace apprenticeship frameworks."



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