A couple of weeks ago the latest Apprenticeship Review got under way thereby completing the trio of Reviews announced late last year. We’ve had the Holt Review which has been looking at how best to engage SMEs in apprenticeship activity and is due to report shortly. We’ve had the Select Committee Inquiry looking at a whole range of issues and also due to report before long and now we have the Richard Review which will be more forward looking. Nor should we forget the regular quality review activity undertaken by the National Apprenticeship Service let alone respective Reports on aspects of the system by the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee respectively, all in the last few months
Why so many Reviews and Reports?
Arguably two reasons: quantity and quality. Quantity because the government has prioritised the work-based route and set specific targets for it. It therefore needs a fully functioning system to be able to deliver growth, targeted for adult apprenticeships at least in the region of 110% over the lifetime of this Parliament. And quality because with growth of this magnitude, quality issues are paramount. As he explained in his recent appearance before the Select Committee, the Minister intends to take a strong line on quality hence the flurry of announcements over the last few months on such matters as minimum durations, sub-contracting arrangements and escalation procedures
Where does this latest Review fit in?
This Review will be more of a look to the future than a review of what has happened in the past. “The purpose of the Richard Review is to take a medium-long term look at the future of apprenticeships in England.” As such it will consider, for instance, changing needs, best practice and investment requirements. The aim is not to spend a great deal of time trying to redesign the system, rather to look at what’s needed going forward. As such it will build on previous Reviews but also take into account a wide range of other evidence as well
When will the Review report back?
Before the end of the year, probably October/November
- Who should apprenticeships be for? Which types of learners and employers would benefit most?
- What should the core components of an apprenticeship be? How might these relate to the needs of employers, individuals and the wider economy?
- How could delivery arrangements be improved? Particularly to ensure the acquisition of new learning and skills rather than the accreditation of existing ones
- Are the qualifications taken as part of an apprenticeship sufficiently rigorous and valued by employers? This may take the Review into the design area but is intended to ensure that qualifications serve future needs
- Are there any elements of an apprenticeship that could be either simplified or stripped back? An interesting area that could take into account different sector needs, prior learning and international models
- Are there opportunities for improving value for money in apprenticeships? Likely to remain an issue for some time now with the added factor of a higher-level fee system looming
Head of Policy (UK and International)
Pearson Think Tank