At the start of National Apprentice Week, Iain Macdonald, NET Chief Executive, has called for a protected definition of apprenticeships based on their traditional structure.
He said: “The time has come to return to the universally recognised definition of apprenticeships, so that standards are preserved in the future. The term ‘apprenticeship’ should apply only to proper, industry–led programmes which lead to industry recognised outcomes and careers. Calling shorter courses or the training of existing staff ‘apprenticeships’ undermines the unique value and specialist skills developed by the apprenticeship proposition.”
Macdonald continued: “Thirty years ago, apprenticeships were something for young people to aspire to. While Government has taken steps to redress the balance between academic and vocational routes to qualification and careers, unless we have a clearly defined and respected apprenticeship standard, we will never achieve parity with the academia. A simple spike in numbers does not necessarily mean we are getting this right, or achieving a better balance. There are too many courses labeled as ‘apprenticeships’ that are not industry-recognised, or demand enough of candidates and employers to add any value to the economy.”
Macdonald added: “The electrical industry, like many others with a distinguished apprenticeship heritage, spends a minimum of three years training an apprentice to become a skilled craftsman. This duration is required to provide a learner with the skills and development they need to work independently within the industry. We must to protect the term ‘apprenticeship’ so that it remains synonymous with giving an individual specialist skills and a career for life, and recognise the enormous value that is gained as a result of that investment.