Vince Cable has urged employers to create a new generation of skilled workers while underling the government’s commitment to an apprenticeship budget of £1,400m in 2011-12.
Dr. Cable welcomed the expansion of British Airways engineering apprenticeship scheme, which is set to take on 120 students this year. Ministers also praised UK firms including British Gas, Superdrug and Procter and Gamble, which between them will create thousands of new apprenticeship places this year. BT is offering 250 places across the Group, and Jaguar Land Rover will create 1,200 new Apprenticeship places. Calling on firms to follow the lead of these employers, Cable said that the government wanted to work with business to deliver 100,000 more apprentices by 2014.
Investment in training the next generation of highly skilled workers would be key to sustainable economic growth, he said, and called for an end to outdated values that have seen vocational learning branded a poor relation to academic study. “I want to reinforce the message to business and young people that apprenticeships are a first-class way to start a career. That is why my department has pledged to work to create some 75,000 additional adult places than those promised by the previous government,” announced Cable.
“Some of the most prestigious companies in England — large and small, public and private — employ apprentices and benefit from doing so. More than 30 per cent of Rolls-Royce apprentices have progressed to senior management roles within the company. And 80 per cent of those who employ apprentices agree that they make the workplace more productive. I’m calling on more businesses to follow this lead.”
Skills Minister John Hayes, who launched the Skills Strategy in November with plans for apprenticeships at its heart, announced that apprenticeship frameworks would be renamed to confer greater recognition and status on those who successfully complete their Apprenticeships— and to make it clear that apprentices can progress to higher stages of learning through the apprenticeships programme, including to university. Level 2 — GCSE level equivalent — apprenticeships will now be known as Intermediate Level Apprenticeships; Level 3 — A level equivalent — will become Advanced Level Apprenticeships and Higher Apprenticeships will remain unchanged. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills is also working with Sector Skills Councils to develop more Higher Apprenticeships (Level 4) frameworks.
“Our ultimate goal remains to see apprentices achieve equivalent esteem and status with university graduates, so that a place on an apprenticeship scheme is as valued as one at a university,” said Hayes.