Apprenticeships should become more relevant & beneficial

The Committee of Public Accounts has said that a fifth of apprenticeships last less than six weeks and are of no benefit. The report follows a promise from the government to place greater emphasis on longer and more comprehensive apprenticeships that better prepare people for work.

Liz Field, CEO of the Financial Skills Partnership, said, “The apprenticeship is now at a stage where it must evolve to encompass the wider range of careers it can lead people into. Apprenticeships are just as applicable to white collar jobs as they are to traditional jobs associated with trades and as a result, we must take a much more contemporary view of how we create and deliver apprenticeships.

“The firm foundation of an effective apprenticeship is when they fully reflect the skills necessary to be successful in the respective industry. That can only take place when business concerns are voiced, listen to and taken on board when apprenticeship frameworks are developed and implemented. From what we have seen from the finance industry, businesses don’t wish to be restricted, or even put off by, excessive bureaucracy. Instead they want to be able to offer opportunities to enthusiastic new entrants to the sector who will become part of the next generation of industry professionals.

FSP has been awarded government funding to help develop employer-led higher apprenticeship frameworks in banking and insurance, with an initial project creating 270 new vocational opportunities on par with the first year of a degree, as they include exams from the professional institutes in the finance sector. Major employers are on board such as HSBC, who will be offering apprenticeship opportunities in a variety of roles within their branch network, call centres and operations areas.

Liz Field concluded, “The number of apprenticeships has increased, as has the number of people who are completing them, which is fantastic news. However, we must be sure that we are not seeking to increase the number of apprenticeships at the expense of focussing on quality. Companies need to benefit from fit-for-purpose apprenticeship schemes and higher apprenticeships will be an increasingly important part of the offering available.

“If implemented correctly, the apprentices themselves will feel involved from day one and will start to acquire skills and knowledge while working towards a nationally recognised framework and professional qualification.”