A quick google of the word apprenticeships brings up the DfE’s website, details of various recruitment agencies and a twitter account, but what is an apprenticeship? Apprenticeships combine practical training in a job with study. Apprentices are paid a low wage (the minimum for most is £2.73 per hour) and they are paid for a normal working week (minimum 30 hours a week) Some see this route as a way to employ people cheaply others see it as a valuable step into the career they would like to pursue.
Recently business secretary Sajid Javid has announced a new scheme to place apprentices in small and medium companies quoted on AIM, London Stock Exchange’s growth market. The scheme will be run by educational charity City Gateway. This sounds great, but how do you know you are on a ‘legitimate apprenticeship’ and are apprenticeships still ‘cool’ and something people want to pursue?
Apprentices are often used to train older people and those already employed at a company rather than taking on a young person out of work. The brand needs to be boasted. The government are looking into this and have committed to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 and this will be enshrined in law. Also public bodies such as schools, hospitals, prisons and police forces will be set targets to take on more apprentices and this should bolster the offering of opportunities out there.
In order to tackle dodgy apprenticeships the government has recently announced that apprenticeships are to be given equal legal treatment to degrees. Through the Enterprise Bill the Skills Minister will legally protect the term ‘apprenticeship’ which will give the government power to take action when the term is misused to promote low quality courses and the term will only be able to be used if the scheme provides at least a year’s training and meets other requirements.
The idea is that this ‘protection’ from dodgy apprenticeships and the commitment to providing lots more opportunities will strengthen apprenticeships reputation, help working people and ensure apprenticeships are recognised as a viable career path. Time will tell.