A group of MPs on the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee recently published a report about apprenticeships and in it stating that the programme is vital in resolving some of the UK’s most pressing issues, but standards need to be improved and schemes monitored further in order to provide skills to enable economic growth.
However Mr Trotter says, while some of their recommendations are sensible, the Government appears to be ignoring the potential damage to the UK’s reputation due to the negative influence of commercial pressures on the integrity of the system.
“The honest, independent brokers needed to improve what is learnt in apprenticeships and the quality of delivery are the awarding bodies and the inspectorate. The Committee is absolutely right to raise concerns about those awarding bodies which are also owned by the same group or individuals who also own training providers (whether a college or private business).
Despite the existence of people of integrity working in these organisations, in my view it is only a matter of time before another scandal appears in the media, perhaps of a major UK based but privately owned awarding body, awarding certificates to those who have not properly completed their qualifications. There should be no room in a system that requires the highest integrity for those who are first and foremost motivated by making commissions and profits for personal gain and prepared to bend the rules, systematically.”
Mr Trotter says the MPs are mistaken in believing that their answer to poor promotion of apprenticeships in schools, in the form of a new statutory responsibility to be put upon the National Apprenticeship Service, would be neither effective of even reasonable. The obvious solution would be a radical overhaul of careers advice inside and outside of schools.
“What is required is a comprehensive overhaul of careers advice within schools, colleges and in the community. Again, there is a need for independent and honest brokers. It is clear that, regrettably, the past and present situations allow to exist a vacuum in vocational careers advice or worse, for it to biased by the vested interests of schools and colleges seeking to hold on to pupils. Whilst the national and local Connexions Service (now disbanded by government) was rightly criticised in some ways, in its defence it did at least provide an informed and independent service that was also visible in communities. From speaking with some of those who have recently left schools and colleges and now looking for a job or apprenticeship, the local Careers Services currently have very little ‘brand awareness’ among young people who appear largely abandoned to search independently (with or without the support of helpful parents or guardians). This cannot be allowed to continue and should be urgently addressed.
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