CIPD's response to Modern Apprenticeships consultation

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25th Oct 2000
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The CIPD has published a response to the consultation document on Modern Apprenticeships (MAs), launched by the government to link in with the changes afoot announced in the White Paper 'Learning to Succeed'.

The government has wanted to re-examine the key parts of both Foundation and Advanced Modern Apprenticeships to try and ensure a better fit with employers requirements. The consultation document was published on 27 June and detailed a number of areas for improvements the government wanted to look at. In consulting it has canvassed opinion over ten weeks from focus groups, partner organisations and National Training Organisations.

The CIPD raises a number of key questions:

  • Are Modern Apprenticeships relevant to the needs of local economies? Some respondents said that there were MAs available in occupations which were hardly represented locally, but there can also be a lack of MAs in local industries which are present. The CIPD says it should be the role of the incoming Local Skills Councils to make sure that this balance is redressed.

  • The CIPD would like to see the MA programme extended to all ages. The third report of the National Skills Task supports this view, it says. The CIPD would also like to see minimum entry requirements relaxed in favour of those with work or life experience instead of school qualifications. "A more flexible, inclusive approach would recognise and value life experience, and it is understood that certain states in the USA have such an approach." The CIPD adds that traditionally, apprenticeships were not based on achieving any school qualifications.

  • It agrees that NTOs should take a greater role in monitoring schemes and supporting employers, but doubts whether they can do this in their existing form without extra government resources.

  • The idea of non-specific Foundation MAs is mentioned in the document but the CIPD believes that apprenticeships should meet a specific need within an industry, saying that it would be too difficult to establish lines of responsibility for non-specific MAs.

  • The proposals are that there should be an increase in the taught element of MA programmes, but the CIPD thinks there should be more emphasis on work-based learning, saying that the taught element of MAs should be able to cover work-based training as well as off-site college-based tutoring. It also highlights the potential problem of finding suitable local classroom-based sessions for apprentices to attend, but says that e-learning delivered through the University for Industry may help to overcome this. The CIPD also believes that mentoring should be mandatory for all apprentices.
  • The government has already published responses to some of these criticisms on the MA consultation website. It says that it wants to look at 'innovative ways of delivering knowledge' by increasing the taught element of the programmes, and is tightening entry requirements because "too many young people have been allowed into Modern Apprenticeships when it was not in their best interests", but says it is keen that they aren't solely based on educational qualifications.

    The government also wants to guarantee an apprenticeship for all young people aged 16 to 18 to target the 80,000 who are currently undertaking training not specifically geared to the workplace. It is also thinking about introducing 'technical certificates', tests of theory to sit alongside NVQs.

    The final recommendations as to the future of Modern Apprenticeships are to be put to Ministers this month.

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