The most appealing element of modern apprenticeship schemes is that they bridge the gap between learning and working, allowing employers to train apprentices in a workplace environment. By training and learning in this way, they are getting hands-on experience, theoretical teaching and developing their skills while earning.
But from an employer’s perspective, it is also important to make the most of their time and funding by identifying which areas require the most training. By determining what skills are needed in what sectors and at what time, apprentices can be trained in advance, thus reducing ‘over training’ and irrelevant training, which will have no value to the apprentice or the employer at the end. Because employers are generally considered to be best placed to make these decisions regarding their apprentices, the government has previously given them the freedom to create their own standards.
However, that is set to change, with government officials making the bold decision that certain standards are just too popular and should have rates lowered. In doing so, they are suggesting that that they know better than the employer. With this blanket approach comes the risk that they are reshaping the apprentice framework in accordance with their preferences.
While it is important for there to be a consideration of public funding, it is clear that by reducing the rates that employers can pay, the standard of that training may be negatively affected. Rates should be clear and transparent, in line with the cost of living. Failing to factor in inflation will inevitably mean a reduction in the quality of standards which will ultimately have a negative effect on everyone involved.
Experts warn that the quality of training should never be neglected, allowing room for progression and development in order to keep standards high and pursue excellence. With policies surrounding apprenticeships being generally very successful, it is both frustrating and confusing why the government are planning to make cuts to funding bands, particularly at a time when the demand for skilled workers and managers is high, due to employment difficulties that have resulted from Brexit.
In order to reduce the decline of apprenticeships, some experts suggest removing the 10% employer contribution, making it easier for small businesses to put funds into training. Larger businesses should also be allowed to utilise the UK government levy on their own employers.
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