The building and engineering sector has requested that the Government adopts a more joined-up approach to apprenticeships.
The suggestion from EMTA Awards Limited (EAL), the leading awarding organisation for the building services and engineering sector, follows the proliferation of new ideas and incentives that have been introduced by government over the last year.
According to Ann Watson, Managing Director at EAL, the move would require a definitive approach to establish “two clear policies on apprenticeships: first, practical support for employers with tangible financial incentives, and second, for apprenticeships to be overseen by one Government department.”
EAL praised the recent announcement of the “£2,500 Golden Hello” as a proactive scheme with great potential but equivocated that the red tape associated with such incentives can confuse employers, especially the SMEs. “A more practical incentive would be to offer employers a break on National Insurance for the first two years of an apprentice’s time with the firm,” says Watson. “During these years, an apprentice spends the majority of their time learning their craft, either in the classroom or shadowing a more experienced employee. As a result, they provide little tangible value-add to their employers. What Government must realise is that apprenticeships are a long term investment, so it needs to offer long term incentives.”
EAL also argue that there is a current lack of cohesion behind apprenticeships which fall under the influence of three separate departments: the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; the Department of Work and Pensions; and the Department of Children and Family Services. Watson says that in an ideal world, just one department would deal with the apprenticeship question by drawing on the combined knowledge of parties from government and industry.
“Although it’s great that these departments are involved and interested in apprenticeships, we desperately need one voice of authority and one central entity to take decisive and joined up action,” she says. “Without this, we will continue to weave a patchwork of solutions that looks good but has little practical value.”