The Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee met on 17th April to take further evidence on apprenticeships.
Evidence was heard from Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges and Tom Wilson, Director of Unionlearn, TUC.
The witnesses began by detailing their experiences of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS). Mr Doel said that the NAS has made some achievement, but that more needs to be done, while Mr Wilson attributed the NAS’s recent success to their focus on quality over quantity.
Margot James MP asked, “Do you think that the quality of apprenticeships has been undermined by the focus on increasing their numbers?” Mr Wilson stated that this was the perception a few years ago, but that the situation has improved markedly, and reiterated that the NAS is now focusing on quality.
Margot also asked about the different levels of apprenticeships and how to encourage people to continue to study to Level 3. Mr Wilson said that he does not favour regulation, but that tax relief for employers may be a solution. Mr Doel pointed out that it may not be necessary to encourage all apprentices to undertake a Level 3 qualification, as not all sectors require it.
When questioned about the duration of apprenticeships, Mr Doel stated that the Association of Colleges are comfortable for age 16-18 apprenticeships being a minimum of 12 months in duration as this allows young people to demonstrate their learning and also to make good working relationships.