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Ofsted issues apprenticeship warning

""Apprenticeships must remain of the highest standard as the Government seeks to create three million extra vocational training courses over the next five years, Ofsted is warning.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of the education watchdog, says that providers who offer poor quality training for skills such as making coffee and cleaning floors risk damaging the apprenticeship brand.

He is due to give a speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) on Thursday to launch a new report.

Ofsted’s research finds that some apprenticeships fail to give workers the skills employers are looking for, while some trainees are unaware they signed up to an apprenticeship in the first place.

It urges the Government to ensure that its commitment to creating three million extra apprenticeships by 2020 does not lead to a drop in quality.

Skills Minister Nick Boles says steps are already being taken to make certain that apprenticeships meet the highest standards.

“Putting an end to poor quality apprenticeship training lies at the heart of our reforms of apprenticeships,” he said.

“We are absolutely committed to creating three million high-quality apprenticeships by 2020, including many more at degree level, because apprenticeships can change the lives of young people and open the door to a good job and a rewarding career.”

Gillian Econopouly, Head of Policy at CITB, said: “The number of people undertaking construction apprenticeships across Great Britain is increasing – we predict there will be around 22,000 new construction apprenticeship starts by the end of this year. Construction apprenticeships are highly regulated, offering quality training, typically over a two-year period.

“We are working hard to improve the image of vocational learning to encourage the best new talent into construction. Last year, Government and industry asked CITB to coordinate an integrated campaign to promote construction and provide a single portal for those interested in the sector.

“Working with more than 400 construction employers, schools, colleges and local government organisations, we recently launched Go Construct, which showcases the wide range of opportunities a career in construction can offer and will help recruit the next generation.”

Plans for reforms include protecting the term “apprenticeship” in law in a bid to crack down on providers that misuse it.

Apprenticeships are also due to be ranked in league tables from around 2018.

This chimes with a recommendation in the Ofsted report that proposes placing training programmes in order of promotion prospects, earnings and responsibilities taken on by the learner. 

In his speech to the CBI, Sir Michael is expected to say that training providers who run substandard apprenticeships are wasting taxpayers’ money.

He will say that apprenticeships must not simply train workers in skills they already have, but must provide them with the abilities they need to succeed in the workplace.

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