28 May, 2022

Queen’s Speech outlines apprenticeship commitment

05 June, 2015

The Queen’s speech in May included a commitment to 3 million more people starting apprenticeships over the next five years and a consultation on funding apprenticeships through a new visa levy on businesses that use foreign labour.

Tim Thomas, head of employment policy at EEF, the Manufacturers’ Association, commented: “This ambitious target of creating 3 million apprenticeships over the next Parliament will be a challenge not only for Government, but employers too, who will play a key role.”

Ready to step up to the plate

Thomas continued: “We know that manufacturers are ready to step up to the plate. However, the Government must put as much emphasis on quality as it does on quantity. It should look to pioneering sectors such as manufacturing, which has a proven track record in offering world-class apprenticeships and where employers are significantly investing in their future workforces.

“However, even the most proactive of employers will, at times, need to recruit specialist workers from outside the UK and Europe. Any future apprenticeship levy imposed on these employers, simply because they have recruited a worker from outside the EU, will be seen as punitive and risks alienating the same employers who already train UK apprentices. ”

Challenging target

Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: “The Full Employment and Welfare Bill highlights [the Government’s] dedication to the creation of three million apprenticeships; a challenging target which can be achieved if the Government and others can persuade sufficient numbers of employers to recruit an apprentice. Colleges are already delivering training to roughly a third of the apprentices across England and they will have a key role in ensuring that the three-million pledge is made a reality.”

Doel added that apprenticeships are not, however, the only way in which the UK can deliver high quality technical and professional education system. “It must be remembered that some young people aren’t ready for the workplace place and for a job with training which is what an apprenticeship is; as well as apprenticeships themselves, in order to reach the target Government will also need to create a comprehensive pre-apprenticeship scheme, providing the vital soft skills that employers most often say they are looking for.


“We also hope that the provision for Jobcentre Plus careers advisers in schools will help young people to find out about all their options, particularly those in college, as well as giving them a full explanation of what an apprenticeship is and the career opportunities they provide. The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill may provide new opportunities for colleges but only if they are able to tailor even more qualifications to the local job market, helping to create a pipeline of skilled people ready for employment.”

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