Last edited 15 Aug 2016

Protection for apprenticeships

The Enterprise Bill announced in the Queen’s speech on 27 May 2015, will be introduced to Parliament in the Autumn.

On 14 June 2015, Skills Minister Nick Boles MP, announced that:

  • The Bill will include a commitment to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020.
  • Public bodies will set targets to take on more apprentices.
  • Provisions will be made for apprenticeships to be given the same legal treatment as degrees, with the term ‘apprenticeship’ protected in law, giving government the power to take action when the term is misused to promote low-quality courses.

Ref BIS Government kick-starts plans to reach 3 million apprenticeships.

The government suggests that apprenticeships “…give young people the security of a pay packet and dignity of a recognised qualification and the millions of apprentices being supported will help carry the UK economy forward.”

Boles said, "If university graduates have their moment in the sun so should people who undertake apprenticeships. Businesses know their value so it’s high time they were recognised both by the public and in law as being equal to degrees.... We want far more employers to get involved in apprenticeships. This means making sure that we practise what we preach in government, so we’re going require all public sector bodies – schools, hospitals, prisons and police forces – to employ apprentices."

According to government statistics, 2.2 million apprenticeships were created since 2010, 7 out of 10 employers found apprenticeships useful to their business and apprenticeships are proven to increase the earnings of those who undertake them.

However, Federation of Master Builders (FMB) chief executive Brian Berry said “As construction accounts for around 7% of GDP, it means our sector should be responsible for around 210,000 of these apprenticeships, which equates to 42,000 a year over the next parliament. Given that the industry only achieved 16,000 in 2013/2014, there is a lot of work to be done.”

On the day of the announcement, the Independent reported that detailed analysis of the figures revealed in a parliamentary answer to Diana Johnson, the Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull North, showed there had been a sharp drop in the number of construction apprenticeships. In 2009-10 there were 16,890 apprentices in construction, planning and built environment, but just four years later there were just 8,000. Ref Thousands of apprenticeships lost in key industries including construction and IT.

In August 2015, the government launched a consultation process for a new apprenticeships levy that will apply to the construction industry. This may threaten the continued role of the CITB. See Apprenticeships levy for more information.

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