Where are the 3 million apprenticeships going to come from?

26 November 2015

As the government sets their sights on delivering 3 million apprenticeships in this parliament, many of us find ourselves asking – where are these going to come from? 

There is still little detail on proposed plans for the apprenticeship levy, as employers and providers speculate about what new, employer-led funding arrangements will look like. New standards are slowly being rolled out, and traineeships are starting to come into their own. So how do cities and local areas begin to take control of this agenda, shaping it to ensure it works locally, and doesn’t just pass them by?

For many areas, further devolution, led through city deals will provide greater control over skills delivery. It’ll fall to these areas to deliver on the 3 million target, engaging more employers and young people than ever before. We need to see a real commitment, together, to boosting apprenticeship numbers. 

If we are going to make sure that apprenticeships are a genuine alternative to traditional routes, then local authorities need to be leading the way. Local authorities themselves need to ensure they are taking on apprenticeships, and engaging with local employers to do the same. It’s vital that those local areas who haven’t already, will require their contractors to take on apprentices through their procurement processes, sending a clear message that developing new training and jobs, and meeting skills gaps, is critical. 

It’s vital, in this context, that the expansion of apprenticeships is delivered through a focus on quality, rather than at its expense. We’re working with employers and apprentices to develop the Apprentice Charter, an aspirational standard that sets out what a great apprenticeship looks like, and ensures that everyone can recognise and celebrate the great provision that exists. But in order to make sure that charter is meaningful for all employers and prospective apprentices, we need to ensure that it is delivered through cities and local areas, who know their own employers best. That’s why we’re offering cities and local areas the opportunity to develop this quality mark, and trial it in their own context. 

Tackling the quality and quantity of apprenticeships means nothing, without ensuring the routes are there to access them. NIACE has been working to develop the traineeship model over the past year, working with Dorset and Humber LEPs to design new STEM traineeship routes. We’ve supported these local areas to ensure that local areas understand the needs of young people and businesses, and that these traineeships can be used to support people into training and jobs, as well as to fill STEM skills gaps. 

We’re now continuing to develop sector-specific traineeship routes, as well as gathering feedback from trainees and employers about their experiences of traineeships. We need to see cities and local areas being given the freedom to develop more intuitive and holistic routes through all types of education, but particularly for those heading down an apprenticeship route. 

Getting the ‘Local’ element right is crucial if Government is to unlock the opportunities of Apprenticeships and hit their 3m target.  Click here for more details within our new Policy Solution, Local People: Local Growth