Ofsted’s chief inspector has raised concerns about the quality of apprenticeships being offered to young people, as the government continues its drive to ensure that more are available than ever before.
Sir Michael Wilshaw was particularly critical of the limited new skills developed by many apprentices and the mismatch between identified skills shortages and the apprenticeships on offer.
The ‘Apprenticeships and Developing Skills for Future Prosperity’ report was launched with the intention of considering apprenticeships under current frameworks so that the findings could be used by the government as they continue their reforms.
The report found that some learners on low level, low quality programmes were unaware that they were even on an apprenticeship. “The question needs to be asked,” the reports states, “are these apprenticeships worthy of the name?”
The report goes onto add that employers and providers involved in poor quality, low level apprenticeships are wasting public funds and abusing the trust placed in them by government and the apprentices. Some apprentices in the care and retail sectors, for example, were able to complete their courses with very low level skills, such as making coffee, serving sandwiches and cleaning floors.
High quality apprenticeships were typically found by inspectors in industries that have a long established reliance on employing apprentices to develop their future workforce, such as the motor vehicle, construction and engineering industries.
Ofsted also warned that quality of apprenticeships would be further undermined in the future if employers are allowed to underfund their contributions to apprenticeships. Ofsted made clear that there are far too few 16 to 18 year-olds starting apprenticeships and that secondary schools needed to do more to promote their worth.