In early December, Chancellor George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement – an update on the state of the economy and the Government’s future plans. In the statement, the Chancellor confirmed that employers would be given more ownership of apprenticeships and they will receive funding directly as part of an effort to put them in the ‘driving seat’.
Responding to the changes, Chris Jones, Chief Executive, City & Guilds Group said:
"Apprenticeships have come so far over the past few years thanks to Government investment, support and focus. It’s fantastic to hear in the Autumn Statement that a budget surplus is in sight and that all the indicators point to growth in the UK economy.
"In 2012, we conducted research which showed the correlation between apprenticeships and economic growth. It showed that by creating a million apprenticeships by 2013, £4.37 billion would be added to UK business by 2020. I don’t think it is a stretch to say we are starting to see some of that play out and today’s announcement that an additional 20,000 higher apprenticeships will be created is welcome news.
"However, although it isn't the intention, today's Autumn Statement puts the apprenticeship system at risk.
"It's not the focus on employer ownership that's risky - that's something we actually welcome. It's the assumption that employers have the time - and indeed the will - to cope with the additional bureaucracy these reforms will entail. Rather than incentivising employers, I fear they'll be put off by what's been announced and decide it is simply not worth the hassle. That would be a disaster, and another generation of young people in this country would lose out.
"All employers, regardless of size, will feel the effects. The reforms will require additional resource. There will be even more hoops to jump through to establish an apprenticeship. Where is the incentive there?
"Employers should certainly be in the driving seat for apprenticeships. But without enough involvement from educators and awarding organisations, the road ahead is bumpy.
"We cannot afford to let this happen. We know that apprenticeships are core to filling skills gaps. We know that for many, they are that first step towards a career. I hope that we will be able to work with Government to find a flexible, workable solution which gives employers control but also support."
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Christine Richardson, City & Guilds
Tel: 020 7294 8054
Mobile: 07717 779781
City & Guilds Kineo has developed a new Managed Qualification Service to enable employers to manage apprenticeships and qualifications in an efficient, technology-enabled way. Find out more here.