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Launch of new apprenticeship survey prompts further calls for reform

The IAC (Industry Apprentice Council) has introduced its fourth annual survey to reveal the state of apprenticeships in 2017

Apprentices across all sectors are being encouraged to take part in this vital information gathering study.

Giving apprentices a voice

Semta Chief Executive, Ann Watson, has spoken passionately about the need to provide apprentices with the opportunity to have a voice within the policy making process. This survey is a simple tool that will allow the opinions and issues that apprentices have to come to light and feed into the reforms that are currently underway.

Improving the image of technical education

Last year’s survey revealed some concerning trends. One of them was that only 15% of the 1500 apprentices who took part heard about their scheme through their school or college careers department. 50% discovered their position of their own volition. Only 24% were actively encouraged to apply for an apprenticeship by educators. This data demonstrates how reluctant many educational establishments still are to embrace apprenticeships.

One of the goals of the IAC is to combat the bias against technical and vocational education, and to ensure that young people are aware of the plethora of options apprenticeships give them. Last year’s survey revealed that 75% wished their apprenticeship schemes would lead to automatic professional accreditation, which points to a sense that perhaps apprenticeships are still underrated by business and industry.

Policy making

The IAC survey will gather data relating not only to the quality of careers advice given to young apprentices and wider perceptions of apprentice schemes in society, but the quality of current apprentices’ employment experience and their levels of career satisfaction.

This will, the IAC hopes, provide statistics that policymakers can use in planning the skills development initiatives of the future.

The apprenticeship levy

The government has pledged to aim for three million apprenticeship take-ups in 2020. To fund this initiative, a new tax called the apprenticeship levy will be imposed upon businesses who have a wage bill of over £3 million. The amount an employer has in their apprenticeship service account will be what they are able to spend on apprenticeship training in that financial year. This protected money means the government can ensure businesses take up apprentice schemes. These changes will take effect in April 2017.

The amount an employer has in their apprenticeship service account will be what they are able to spend on apprenticeship training in that financial year. This protected money means the government can ensure businesses take up apprentice schemes. These changes will take effect in April 2017.

Progress

Ann Watson has commented that the survey will be a great opportunity to observe whether or not things have improved over the last twelve months.

Last year, 84% had not even heard of the apprenticeship levy. 70% were unaware of the government’s three million apprenticeship target. These statistics point to a lack of awareness and engagement in education settings when it comes to vocational training schemes.

Consultations

As well as the annual survey, the IAC organises consultations which regularly involve apprentices in shaping specific policies. At this crucial time in the history of vocational training schemes, it is important that the people who matter most get the opportunity to contribute to the skills policies of the future.

As Shadow Skills Minister Gordon Marsden has put it, the more apprentices that respond, the louder their voice becomes.

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