The government has filed its response to the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee's report on the Draft Apprenticeships Bill, published last December and making some 35 proposals for government consideration over the bill.
In its original report the Committee expressed its concern that, though it applauded the fact that there are now more apprenticeship starts, a smaller number of them were at ‘advanced’ level, leaving participants shy of the actual hard skills they’d need in a job.
Government refuted this indictment in its response, saying “advanced apprenticeship numbers have increased not fallen. The proportion of all apprenticeships that are advanced has increased as have the total number of advanced apprenticeships.” It said 73,000 people starting an advanced apprenticeship in 2007–08 constituted a rise of 40% on 2005–06 figures.”
As to the wider regard of general quality of the programmes, government maintained that Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) is the most suitable organisation to measure it, despite calls from the Committee to replace them with the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).
Having heard charges both from the Committee and the wider business community that access to skills programmes is too convoluted and that its complexity reduces the chances of uptake, the government conceded: “the principal barriers seemed to be gaining access to information about the programme”. It ensured: “one of the NAS roles will be to continue to challenge and remove unnecessary bureaucracy for employers.”
Read the full government response along with the Committee’s original recommendation in this document.