Today’s post comes courtesy of Roger Francis, MindLeaders ThirdForce HR and Services Director
Yesterday I attended a debate at the House of Commons organised by Nick Linford of FE Week. There were about 70-80 key stakeholders in the Apprenticeship arena present together with the Shadow Further Education Minister and the Chair of the Business Innovation and Skills Select Committee.
Whilst there were serious concerns expressed about the value of some existing apprenticeship programmes, the key question for me was about the fundamental purpose of Apprenticeships. I think there was general agreement that Apprenticeships are not going to fix the problem of youth unemployment. The real purpose is to upskill the UK Plc workforce in order to remain competitive in the 21st century.
With that in mind, I believe that apprenticeship programmes should be judged not in terms of their length or the numbers on programme, but as to whether they genuinely result in learner career development. We are proud to support a major company in the Hospitality arena who do just that. They have a clear plan to recruit 80% of their site managers internally and they see Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4 Apprenticeships as the foundation of that plan. That for me is exactly what the apprenticeship programme should be achieving. Of course, not everyone who starts a programme will end up as a site manager. But the chance is there to do so and other companies operating large apprenticeship programmes should ask themselves whether they offer similar opportunities.
The news that Functional Skills will now definitely become a mandatory component of all Apprenticeships frameworks from September 2012 fits perfectly with the need to upskill our workforce. Unlike Key Skills, which it replaces, Functional Skills will provide a genuine opportunity for learners to improve their literacy and numeracy skills and just as importantly, apply those skills to new situations which they will face as their career develops. This is exactly what the apprenticeship programme is designed to achieve – helping people to develop their skills and subsequently their careers.
We at Mindleaders Thirdforce are proud to be at the forefront of the Functional Skills revolution, leading the way with our innovative delivery solutions.