‘The real measure of success in apprenticeship reforms is not in the number of new starts but in the number of completed programmes, and as such, it is vital that the next government commits to improving this.
The most recent figures show that in 2015/2016, only 67 per cent of apprenticeships were completed. To increase this rate, learners need to be shown that apprenticeships can be engaging, worthwhile, and ultimately rewarding.
If we are to achieve this, the learner perspective must be at the heart of initiatives, rather than allowing the national narrative to be too employer-led, or economy-driven.
Apprentices’ voices have been somewhat drowned out in all the industry noise. We hear so much about skills gaps identified by employers – particularly in the STEM sector – which are perceived to be the answer to improving the UK economy.
But learners pursuing other types of apprenticeship have to see the value of completion. We need a top-down recognition of all apprenticeship routes, rather than a STEM-centric approach. If a learner is made to feel that their skills aren’t appreciated, that their chosen career path isn’t important, or that they won’t meaningfully contribute to the economy, it can beg the ultimate question: what is the point?
Incentivising a learner to complete an apprenticeship needs to hinge on more than just conceptual support, however. There needs to be a real, tangible end-goal: in short, an apprenticeship needs to represent a direct line of sight to a job.’ – FE Week