The changes that have been made to Apprenticeships

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This essay will highlight the changes that have been made to Apprenticeships; from the 1970's Labour Government, to the Conservative party in the 1980's, and then back to the New Labour, under the leadership of Tony Blair. It will follow the government's views up to the present day.

This essay has highlighted the commitment from each government and their struggle to put in place a successful model of training young people In Further Education, such the Youth Opportunities Programme, Youth Training Scheme, Modern Apprenticeships and to the present day.

The essay will report on the issues that young people face when they leave secondary school and enter the world of Apprenticeships and Further Education. It will highlight the struggle that young people, wishing to pursue a career in the construction industry face. As the availability for Jobs or Apprenticeships are disproportionately stacked against them.

The Government announced in the 2004 Pre-Budget Report that Sandy Leitch had been asked to examine the future skill needs of the UK. This assignment will be looking at the Leitch Review OF Education2004 t0 the Final Leitch Report in 2006. Specifically looking at some of the points and recommendations he has suggested in relation to apprenticeships in the U.K. I shall also be researching the views of stakeholders, organisations and government organisations on their approach and strategic future of apprenticeships.

The Leitch Review of Skills reported back to Government in spring 2006 on what skills profile the UK should aim to achieve in 2020 in order to support improvements in productivity, growth and social justice over the longer-term. The Review also considered the implications of this ambition for Government policy. Key questions for the Review to address were:

• What skills profile is the UK likely to have in 2020?

• What skills profile should the UK aim to achieve in 2020?

• What are the implications of this ambition for policy?

Over the course of the project, the Review team would reflect on views gathered from a wide range of stakeholders: education and training providers; the academic and research Community; government agencies; sectoral and regional bodies; businesses and their representative organizations.The final report of the Leitch Review of Skills, Prosperity for all in the global economy - world class skills, was published on 5th December 2006.

The Review had developed recommendations to simplify the process of developing qualifications, putting employers more in control, so that qualifications better reflect economically valuable skills. The review published in December 2006 highlighted the issue that employers needed more control and input into vocational qualifications.

The Review recommended a simplified demand-led system with employers and individuals having a strong and coherent voice. The Review recommended that all publicly funded, adult vocational skills in England, apart from community learning, go through demand-led routes by 2010. This meant that all adult skills funding would be routed through Train to Gain and Learner Accounts by 2010.

The research in this essay will find out the effect the Leitch Report 2006 has had on Further Education, the involvement employers have had in the training and the development of vocational qualifications.

Since the Final Report in 2006 the global economy has suffered a meltdown with global financial institutions facing bankruptcy, falling house prices, redundancy and consumer confidence suffering. This has been the backdrop for the government's attempts to put this nation as a global leader. The Leitch Report had promised so much with the recommendations but how would this work in reality.

The Leitch report and recommendations highlighted changes by 2020 and this essay will review the steps the nation has made towards that goal. This essay will review the state of apprenticeships in the present day because the U.K economy has changed significantly over time. Today the service sector accounts for around three quarters of the UK economy. Almost 29 million people are employed in the UK. Of these, 3.8 million are self-employed. Small firms with less than 50 employees, excluding the self-employed, account for around one quarter of employment, with large firms (250 or more employees) accounting for 41 per cent. The public sector accounts for more than 20 per cent of total employment. Improving economic prosperity will mean tackling the different challenges that the different types of employer in the UK face


The Labour government has been in power since 1997 with Tony Blair introducing New Labour to the nation. Gordon Brown is now his successor and ex chancellor of exchequer but where doe his fates lie. The country is preparing itself for a national election and the battlegrounds will be drawn again. The conservative party could be restored to power yet again. This essay will research the changing governments and the continual cycle of development especially education and the ever changing apprenticeship model.

Apprenticeships have always been part of the development of working environments, forming a fundamental way of passing valuable skills from one generation to the next. Apprenticeships date back to the Middle Ages, 1300-1500. In this model, a master craftsman such as a cobbler, blacksmith, tailor or weaver benefitted from cheap labour and in turn imparted their knowledge onto the apprentice, greatly enhancing their prospects by providing them with training that would lead to employment.

This essay will explore apprenticeships, focusing on conservative government's model of the Youth Training Scheme and is subsequent demise. It will then move on to the Labour governments attempt to distance itself from the Conservative model through The Modern Apprenticeship, leading to the Learning and skills act of 2004 and the birth of the Learning Skills Council. Finally it will explore the Leith report 2006 which sort to review further education and offer recommendations for how the apprenticeship could fit within modern British society.

Since the 1970's there have been a number of apprenticeship schemes set up by both Labour and Conservative governments with the intention of raising the level of vocational education. This began with the unified vocational preparation (UVP) 1970's, the youth opportunities programme1980's, the youth training scheme 1989. There have been other initiatives which paved the way for modern apprenticeships, young apprenticeships and the increased flexibility programme in the latter part of the 1990's and the turn of the century. Considering the amount of effort previous governments had in transforming and enhancing the apprenticeship programme through think tanks, government white papers, there was still progression to be made to the quality and provision of vocational qualification and apprenticeships, especially those which were employer led. Lucas (2004, pp137-1380) cites Ainley and Corney view (1990) that; 'These early developments in new vocational courses were caught between the need to do something about youth unemployment and the need to develop a genuine training route.'

The Conservative government in 1993 launched the way forward for modern apprenticeships in the U.K, after concerns about the international ranking of the workforce compared to other European and international countries. According to Fuller, Unwin (2008) the concerns of the government were that there was a disproportionate number of people not qualified to intermediate or technician level at level 3, thus not providing the framework for apprentices to further the education or enter into higher education. The Modern apprenticeship, as it was termed was positioned at Level 3 and this new programme was to take over from the youth training schemes that it had superseded. By renaming it with the name 'apprenticeship' the government of the time were distancing itself from training schemes that may have had a low image. The legislation ensured that core features, such as standardised lengths of time for participation as an apprentice, the presence of qualified trainers in the workplace, and time for study of general and vocational education off the job, were guaranteed across all sectors.

By 1997 the Labour government had come into power and had set up a 'special taskforce' which overlapped with the government's skill strategy White Paper (DfES, 2005) (Wolf, 2007, p12), the white paper contained a report addressing the problems of apprenticeships. By 2001 the Labour government again decided to change the framework of the apprenticeship programme set up by the Conservative party by dividing it in two, producing the Foundation Modern Apprenticeship (FMA) at level 2 and the Advanced Modern Apprenticeship (AMA) at level 3. By rebranding the apprenticeship and putting it into 2 categories Fuller, Unwin (2008) has suggested that the government was trying to use it as a tool to claim it had increased the apprenticeship numbers while the labour party were in government. The Learning and Skills Act 2000 paved the way forward for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). The learning and skills Council was formed following this act, taking over from the previous 72 Training and Enterprise Councils and the Further Education Funding Council for England.

The LSC was set up to tackle ongoing concerns regarding the poor quality of apprenticeships and the low completion rates in several sectors in England. As part of their reform the LSC wanted to introduce a more rigorous system to appoint training providers thus terminating the providers with poor performing records. The other part of the reform was to add an extra qualification which was known as a technical certificate; this would further educate and extend the apprentice beyond the immediate employment. The NVQ s of the time could have been regarded as insufficient by prospective employers as it was a competence based test, that failed to support apprentices, if they wanted to progress further to higher levels of study such as university. Fuller, Unwin (2008) reported that the Labour government did not introduce this reform into their modern apprenticeship programme in 2006 but it was removed altogether. The Select committee on Economic Affairs report, (5th report 2006/7, and p 36) state that the 'Education and Skills secretary the Chancellor and the Trade and Industry Secretary, had announced plans as early as 2001 that they would make that on the job training for young people in England match the best in the world would'. Despite this claim from the government ministers and the commitment to be on equal standing with our European neighbours, such as Germany and France, technical certificates were still withdrawn from the Apprenticeship framework. The Select committee on Economic Affairs report, (5th report 2006/7, and p 37) state;' it is important to retain the technical certificate … it is really about off the job training. It really adds a balance to the opportunity for progression at a later date, because you are building underpinning technical knowledge as well as the on the job competence skills. As a general theory, it is good to protect that as a feature of our Apprenticeships because it is very much a feature of continental Apprenticeships'.

The review of Further Education was set up in 2004. This was announced in the governments Pre Budget report. Sandy Leitch, a banker, had been asked to evaluate the future skill needs of the U.K. This was called the Leitch Review and it would report back to the government in the spring of 2006 when he declared the skills profile the U.K should aim to achieve by 2020. This would support improvements in productivity, growth and social justice over the longer term.

The review also considered the implications of this for government policy. The review produced a report on training and skills for adult's skills in the U.K (2005) as it was highlighted that by 2020, 70 per cent of the workforce would be beyond the compulsory age of education. The key recommendations for the Leitch report 2006 were - To increase adult skills across all levels-Additional annual investment in skills up to Level 3 - Route all public funding for adult vocational skills in England, apart from community learning, through Train to Gain and Learner Accounts by 2010 - Increase employer engagement and investment in skills. Reform, relicense and empower Sector Skills Councils (SSC) - Launch a new 'pledge' for employers to voluntarily commit to train all eligible employees up to Level 2 in the workplace - Increase employer investment in Level 3 and 4 qualifications in the workplace- Increase people's aspirations and awareness of the value of skills to them and their families - Create high profile, sustained awareness programmes- Develop a new universal adult careers service - Create a new integrated employment and skills service, based upon existing structures, to increase sustainable employment and progression - Increase apprenticeships by 500,000 a year (Leitch,2006, p3-5).

In addition to the final report, an interim report was commissioned by the government which was spearheaded by Leitch 2005. They discovered that the UK had a strong economy, but the skills base of the nation was still lacking behind other European nations, especially Germany and France. According to the report there had been improvements in the nation's skills profile, increasing the number of people with a degree from one fifth to one quarter of the population. The report found that over one third of adults in the U.K did not have any basic school leaving qualification. Five million people had no qualifications at all. It highlighted poor literacy and numeracy skills. (Leitch, 2005, p1) states; 'Our nation's skills are not world class. We run the risk that this will undermine the UK's long-term prosperity. Productivity continues to trail many of our main international comparators. Much more needs to be done to reduce social disparities. Improving our skill levels can address all of these problems'

The Apprenticeship' brand has been used for a range of vocational learning opportunities ( Ryan et al.2006, cited in Hodson, Spour 2008, p85) These range from Young apprenticeship schemes, Entry into Employment ( E2E) and the Advanced Apprenticeship programme which incorporates the level 2 and 3 framework. Vocational learning in the 14-19 year old sector of education had been introduced By the New Labour Government (1997-2001) which included the New Deal for 18-24 year olds, Modern Apprenticeships and the focus was on full time post 16 learners. The publication of the14-19 green paper (DfES 2002), promoted vocational learning in secondary schools targeting key stage 4 learners. Hodgson, Spours (2008) comments that this could promote vocational learning as one way of providing a platform for young people to progress into apprenticeships through the work based learning programmes. Hodgson, Spours( 2008,p82) comment further and argues that; 'the image of vocational learning as a whole is largely shaped by government initiatives for those alienated by or not deemed suitable for general education'. Secondary schools in 2002 were introducing vocational education and were steering away from traditional GCSEs and moving towards National Vocational Qualifications, BTEC First Diplomas and ASDAN. This period coincides with the Increased Flexibility Programme (IFP), which were collaborations between schools and further education colleges. The programme gave opportunities for key stage 4 students to enter into a world of vocational education studying practical subjects 1 day a week. Elements of the IFP are found in the young apprenticeship scheme which was introduced in 2006. The sectors involved ranged from art and design to food and drink manufacturing, science and the electricity industry. This has now been taken into the motor industry, engineering and construction. According to Hobson, Spours (2008) the Apprenticeship scheme has been refashioned into 3 streams of learning. Firstly the employer led route, which is paid by the employer to the apprentice, and has the opportunity to gain qualifications through the traditional mode of qualification for the apprenticeship. Secondly, the apprentice registers on a training course with a recognised employer or independent training provider, leading to an apprenticeship. Despite not being directly employed. The third option would be completing a construction qualification, which reflects the apprenticeship framework, at a local further education college. This model and the various young persons programmes identifies that the word or term Apprenticeships can have several interpretations.

Since the Leitch Review 2006 the Train to Gain Programme, was rolled out into the world of employment, where its main aim was to involve employers in the training of their employees. The strategy to involve employers would be crucial to Leitchs review 2006, and the increased involvement of learning skills council to monitor and quality assure the delivery was instrumental in its success. According to the LSC the Train to Gain programme (2007) it had been a success. With an increase in demand and more than 22,000 employers were using the service. David Greer skills Director, Support to Business states; 'The results have been encouraging'. The evaluation by the LSC confirms that 88 per cent of employers are satisfied with the Train to Gain programme. John Denham The Secretary of State for the newly formed Department for Innovations, Universities and Skills (2007) spoke at the CBI Skills Summit and commented that 250 employers had made a skills pledge, covering 2 million employees. Since the Leitch report 2006 the government has made some changes to the development of the nation and have made priorities for the future skills in Train to Gain, Higher level skills, Employer control of training system, and increased apprenticeships across the sector. Kingston (2009) suggests that the Train to Gain programme introduced by Leitch 2006, did not match the enthusiasm of the government as it was not popular with employers as interest was not shown in the first couple of years but since then, there has been a huge demand which is putting huge pressure on the mechanisms and resources behind the Train to Gain programme. The LSC has cut its funding for Train to Gain according to Kingston (2009) especially in the area of teaching 16- to 19-year-olds. The Sector Skills Council set up under the Leitch reform 2006, had taken over from the National Training Organizations and before that the Industry Training Board. There role was to act as a voice for employers in this new era of employer driven qualification system. Their involvement was to increase, progress and to move the nation into a highly skilled employment system by 2010. Wolf (2007) argues that the demand led system that forms the bedrock of Leitch 2006 reforms are a way of moving further education into yet more central planning. Wolf (2007) points out that the 25 sector skills councils established 2001 are responsible for drawing up the agreements which apparently show what employers need in their sector, designing Apprenticeship frameworks which lay down in detail what a publicly funded apprentice must learn and do. It is this centrally planned, supply driven system and the recommendations of Leitch, to fund qualifications approved only by the SSC will gain public funding that could be seen as the exact opposite of what employers want. The Learning Skills Council will be disbanded from 2010 and the vacuum will be filled by Local Education Authorities.

The Leitch report 2006 had made bold statements regarding the state of apprenticeships and targets that will be reached by 2020, but unfortunately since that time the countries economic bubble has burst. School leavers and graduates face similar difficulties in gaining any useful employment in their chosen industry. Those wishing to pursue a career in the construction industry face a tough task in any of the four career pathways. The four recognised construction pathways in construction range from an operative, craftsman, technician, and professional. The operative career, can involve the trenching or digging and the laying of the foundations of a building. The training and entry requirement are low and operative only need to be trained to level 2 NVQ. The craft career can range from carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers, electricians etc. The requirements for these careers are for Level 2/3 NVQ, and through further study can reach level 4. The Technician routes are qualified up to A-Level, BTEC Diploma level 3/4, Higher National Diplomas in Engineering or construction. The technicians generally work under supervision from a professional depending on their area expertise or specialism. The professional route requires the students to be qualified to degree standard in their chosen profession, architects will have to further complete another 2/3 years education and finally pass an exam. It could be argued that the road to apprenticeships, have been made tougher through the government polices since Leitch. This is because of the restructuring of government agencies and the possible loss of information or momentum, and the fact that not one agency has sole responsibility of apprenticeships. Since Leitch the onus has been on the sector skills council to deliver the required apprenticeships and make contact with employers, as well as represent the views of employers. This dependency on the sector skills council to be in charge of all the developments, asked by government could prove to be too much in a short space of time. In 2008, the Labour government had revised plans to boost and strengthen apprenticeships by increasing the quality on offer and specifying the acceptable level of tie in with employers. The concern of the government was that apprenticeships are in a decline despite the ambitions of Leitch. The evidence for young people completing a level 3 in apprenticeships have been declining, and the review (Nuffield Issues Papers 2008, cited by Hodgson, Spours 2008, p86) further supports that argument with the trend of advanced apprenticeships completed by young people 16-18 years old were on a downward slope.

The confederation of British Industry was founded in 1965. It is non-profit making, non-party political organisation which is self funded. It includes most of the countries largest business. The CBI has acknowledged the government's efforts to raise the skills level of the nation by their reforms for apprenticeships as well as their economic investment. The CBI supports the Government's ambition to raise both the quantity and quality of apprenticeships. However, the standards as currently specified will not achieve either of these aims. Encouraging strong employer involvement and ensuring the programme better meets the needs of businesses is the key to both increasing the number of places on offer and raising training quality. The CBI are concerned that part of the reform will mean that there will be a minimum period of off workstation training, which could scare off businesses and fewer companies could see the value in taking on apprenticeships. The entitlement for every 16-18 year old to an apprenticeship in 2013 will be put in jeopardy.

Since the UK entered recession, (CBI, 2009, p6) unemployment has risen sharply and is set to get worse. The latest official statistics show that the jobless total rose to 2.26m in the first quarter of 2009, and the CBI forecasts that this will peak at over 3m next spring. The latest official figures also revealed the biggest quarterly fall in employment since comparable records began in 1971 - a drop of 271,000 in the three months to April 2009. The number of people receiving out of work benefits is now at its highest since July 1997, standing at 1.54m in May 2009. These are serious concerns for individuals, businesses and the government. Finding a new job is getting tougher: the latest official statistics show the number of job vacancies fell to a record low of 444,000 in the three months to May 2009. Youth unemployment is a particular concern and one soon to be compounded by the coming influx of school leavers and graduates onto a depressed job market. At 16.6%, the unemployment rate among 18 to 24 year-olds in the three months to April was the highest it has been since 1993.

In conclusion Apprenticeships date back many centuries and have formed the backbone of the countries economy, from the Middle Ages to the industrial revolution and to the present day. In 1878 the City and Guilds was formed following a meeting of London's livery companies and the corporation of London. These were the traditional guardians of apprenticeships and work place training in England. The aim of the meeting was to establish a national system of technical education, where standards and training were paramount. History shows that standardisation and training of apprenticeships date back to the 19th century .The research in this essay details the efforts of successive governments to solve the problem of apprenticeships and training young people in England. The Labour party in the 1970's, the Conservative government in the 1980's and then New Labour government in 1997 to the present day. There does seem to be a fundamental fault with the state of apprenticeships and training for young people. As suggested earlier in this essay by Ainley and Corney (1990) those vocational courses are caught between youth unemployment and the need to develop a genuine training route. The same arguments could be asked of the government at present despite the rhetoric and promises.

The aim of the Modern Apprenticeships launched by the Conservative government in the 1993, were to raise the quality and standard of youth training schemes. The outcome of this would be that more people would go onto gain level 3 qualifications and then progress into higher education. The Conservative government led by Margaret Thatcher until 1990 and then by John Major had been in power since 1979. This research shows that the Conservative government had inherited the failing Youth Opportunities Programmes, but despite their longevity of power in controlling the country. They were still reinventing apprenticeships in 1993.

With the introduction of New Labour in 1997 and Tony Blair they had set up a special taskforce and by 2001 decided to change the framework of Modern apprenticeships yet again. They also opened a new era by introducing the Learning and Skills Council, taking overall control of young people and adults training and in turn raise the level of apprenticeships and training in England. Part of the LSC's reform would be to introduce a Technical certificate to the apprenticeship framework. This would widen and stretch the apprentice given them a better chance to succeed outside the parameters of their every day employment. Unfortunately New Labour did not see this extra dimension of the Apprenticeship programme as important and withdrew it from the framework. The clam by Tony Blair; (1997) 'Education, Education, Education ', could be called into question if one was to judge the withdrawal of the Technical certificate and the rhetoric of the government.

The Review of Further Education 2004 and the Leitch report in 2006 were carried out by Sandy Leitch a wealthy banker and Business man and subsequently a trusted business advisor to Tony Blair's government. The review/report had set out to find the long term skills needs of the U.K, and to report back with recommendations on the skills of the nation.The other part of its aim was to advise on ways to restore the UK's position as a major leader in the skills needed to compete globally. One part of the reform was to increase apprenticeships by 500,000 a year across all sectors. The report had begun in 2004 and finally completed in December 2006. The U.K economy has been in steady decline since 2006 which has affected all industries especially the construction industries. A traditionally based apprenticeship with employer and employee has always been the best way to learn a craft or trade, but with the economic situation and the possibility of companies scaling down, how can young people enter an employment of their choice. The research in this essay shows that the lines have been blurred as what actually determines an apprenticeship.

The Train to Gain programme has been the flagship of Leitchs review and the involvement with employers is instrumental in its success. The research that has been carried out in this essay suggests that their will be cut backs with the train to gain programme. This could compromise the idea behind the scheme, as this would then lead to employers having to pay the full costs of training their employees to the required level. The Learning and Skills Council who were set up to oversee the development are too due to be disbanded by 2010. This could create a sense of uncertainty as the operation would come under the control of the Local Education Authority (LEA). Throughout this essay and the research that has been provided there does essay to be a common theme of continual change. The apprenticeship model is a continual evolution with successive governments changing it for the better. Time will tell if this nation will reach its goal by 2020 and whether the Leitch report has set out what it intended to do. The threat of a national election and the possibility of a new era and a new party possibly called The New Conservatives, are we in danger of starting again.