Apprenticeships optimism questioned

Government figures have shown a rise of over 50% in the number of internships on offer in 2010-11 compared to the previous academic year, butsome have questioned the true value of these rises.

Government figures have shown a rise of over 50% in the number of internships on offer in 2010-11 compared to the previous academic year, butsome have questioned the true value of these rises.

According to provisional figures released by the Department of Education and the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation (BIS), there were 442,700 apprenticeships in 2010-11, up from 279,700 the previous year.

It is not just the numbers, but the content of apprenticeships that matters to John Nollett, managing director of mechanical parts producer Pailton Engineering: “It would be tragic if the whole concept of apprenticeships was undermined by employers offering watered-down versions for straightforward jobs requiring the sorts of skills people use in everyday life.”

Further education title FE Week reported in June that while supermarket Morrisons claims to be the largest provider of apprenticeships in the UK, nearly all the 18,000 schemes created by the company so far this year were taken up by existing staff.

A company spokesperson told FE Week: “We think apprenticeships are important for new and existing staff as a way of developing and enhancing skills.”

The figures see a rise in the number of apprenticeships undertaken across all age groups, although the over 25s saw the most growth, with 175,500 apprentices in 2010-11, more than trebling the previous figure of 49,100. The Guardian reports this morning that only 7% of all apprenticeships have gone to those aged 16-18.

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