Monday, April 09, 2018

Teething problems with apprenticeships?

According to an article today on Wonkhe - marking the first year of apprenticeships - some systemic issues are emerging:

"Appy birthday

Friday was the first birthday of the apprenticeship levy, with a veritable fiesta of events to mark the occasion. However, the government’s target of three million starts by 2020 looks seriously at risk, despite claims that all is going “as planned”.
Challenges include demonstrating the benefits to prospective applicants and their families, meeting employer needs, and delays getting new apprenticeships approved. One major employer, IBM, described the process as “incredibly difficult” with “bizarre decisions” and “not a good experience at all”. That same employer also said they have “shifted away from graduates ... which is possibly an unintended consequence".
There are also issues in demonstrating the returns to firms of taking on apprentices – simulations published by the Education Policy Institute to estimate the costs and benefits suggest that most firms would only break even if apprentice pay is close to minimum wage, and that higher-level apprenticeships taken up at a later age could offer lower returns for both apprentices and their employers.
From a standing start, many universities are starting to offer degree apprenticeships, which Gerry Berragan of the Institute for Apprenticeships said he was supportive of. He also said management degrees are a "perfectly respectable" way to use levy funds and address productivity challenges.
Time will tell if the government, the post-18 review, and OfS can create a coherent, system-wide offer that includes different routes and levels. With unspent levy funds and stubborn skills gaps, it’s likely that more enterprising HEIs will continue to seize this opportunity."

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