The apprenticeship reform system needs a rethink

We're urging Government to rethink a number of the reform policies
17 October 2016

Following the YMCA Fringe events at both the Labour and Conservative party conferences, Lady Andree Deane-Barron, Managing Director of YMCA Training, has written an open letter to the Skills Minister Robert Halfon urging him to rethink a number of policies in the apprenticeship reform.

In the six page letter, LadyDeane-Barron urges Mr Halfon to reconsider a number of its proposals if the system is to start on a good footing: “While we warmly welcome the commitment to apprenticeships demonstrated by the Minister and the apprenticeship reforms, there are certain aspects which the government should reconsider if they want the system to start on a positive note, especially for young people with complex needs”.

Referring to FE Week’s ‘Save our Apprenticeships’ campaign, Lady Deane Barron calls for framework funding to stay the same post May 2017 and raises concerns surrounding proposals to scrap the disadvantage and area uplift funding, stating that the loss of funding “will have a detrimental impact”.

We firmly believe that the Government’s ambition of having all apprenticeships starting on standards by 2018 is ambitious and so we're calling for “realistic timescales for the switchover”.

We're also calling to completely scrap employer contributions for employers hiring 16-18 year olds and Level 2 learners, which could lead to “a rise in employment of 16-18 year olds, as these learners require much more support from providers and employers”.

Another issue highlighted in the letter to the Minister is GCSE maths and English. Lady Deane-Barron cites the detrimental effects GCSE maths and English has had on the childcare sector and refers to one of our learners ‘Emma’, who is currently studying for the Level 3 Early Years Educator qualification, studying for a grade C at both English and maths GCSE and working a 40 hour week. Lady Deane-Barron said: “Although Emma enjoys finding out about 19th Century literature and the literary, cultural and historical world it opens up to her, she struggles to contextualise this in relation to her own work and this means the skills she is learning do not feel transferable.

"Due to the lack of time she is able to study in relation to her peers studying A Level or at college, Emma feels that because she has chosen to go into the workplace and follow an apprenticeship she is being penalised”.

Functional Skills contextualises core English and maths skills and is proven to engage learners who have not achieved GCSE grade ‘C’ and above and “especially helps the most disadvantaged young people who may have experienced disruptive home lives, homelessness or mental illness into work by allowing them to fulfil their potential, instead of submitting them to constant knock-backs when they fail their GCSEs”.

We believe that Functional Skills should be viewed as a positive and viable alternative to GCSEs, and the focus on improving GCSE success should remain in schools.

We're also calling for adequate careers advice and guidance, suggesting “communication needs to be improved across all strands of the apprenticeship reform system”.

You can read the open letter in full here.


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