Ann Watson, Managing Director of the industry awarding organisation, EAL, today urged caution in the interpretation of the . The figures indicate a significant increase in the number of new Apprenticeship starts during 2010/11. At a meeting with industry employers she said:
“Though the rise in Apprenticeship starts may look like a positive trend, questions need to be asked to ensure investment is properly targeted to meet industry needs, and that in the eagerness to increase numbers, the Apprenticeship brand isn’t damaged.
“Between now and 2016, industry will need an additional 68,500 skilled craftspeople and technicians. In engineering and manufacturing alone, technical vacancies at level 3 make up 65 per cent of skills shortages. We need further action to support Apprenticeships at this higher level and beyond, rather than allowing the continuation of the current trend among some high street employers of pinning the Apprenticeship badge on large volume, low-skilled programmes.
“If we want to support economic growth by attracting new talent into industry via Apprenticeships, it’s critical we protect their true ethos. Apprenticeships are about providing a sustained and rigorous period of training and assessment – allowing people to develop high levels of specialist knowledge and technical skills. Apprenticeship funding needs to be routed correctly – so that as well as up-skilling adult workers, it creates new jobs for young people and puts them on the path to achieving sustainable and fulfilling employment.
“This is even more important at a time when young people are actively considering Apprenticeships as an alternative career route in order to avoid next year’s increase in university tuition fees.”