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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2009): Education - UK - training

The Draft Apprenticeships Bill

Children, Schools and Families Committee

London: TSO, 2008 (House of Commons papers, session 2007/08: HC 1082)

The Children, Schools and Families Committee says in this report that it has grave doubts about whether a statutory duty on the Learning and Skills Council (and successor bodies) to provide sufficient apprenticeship places for anyone above compulsory school age but under 19, and who holds the necessary entry level requirements, can be met. Even if it can, the pressure of that duty could lead to the quality of apprenticeships being compromised. The provision in the Draft Bill to increase the supply of apprenticeship placements in the public sector is a welcome step and the Committee says there is significant potential for public sector organisations to use existing posts to provide apprenticeship placements. Group apprenticeship schemes could become one of the principal means of encouraging small employers to offer apprenticeships, and the Committee recommends that the Government assesses their potential and develops models for funding and operating them. The Committee also recommends that legislation on the provision of careers advice is made stronger by requiring schools to include clear and comprehensive information about apprenticeships in materials available to learners.

Gissa training scheme

S. Court

Public Finance, Feb. 6th-12th 2009, p. 24-26

With unemployment rising rapidly, the government has put training and reskilling schemes at the heart of its strategy for reducing the impact of the recession. The government is funding the creation of up to 45,000 apprenticeships and 75,000 additional training places at colleges. It has also promised 'golden hellos' of up to 2,500 to encourage employers to recruit and train unemployed people.

A million evening class places cut as cash is diverted to retraining jobless

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Feb.13th 2009, p. 7

Figures obtained by the Conservatives in answer to a Parliamentary question show that 1.3 million places on informal evening classes have been lost over the past five years because funding has been diverted to basic skills training for the unemployed. More informal courses in woodwork, gardening and languages which did not lead to a qualification and which were popular with the middle classes have been cut.

Pre-legislative scrutiny of the Draft Apprenticeships Bill

Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee

London: TSO, 2008 (House of Commons papers, session 2007/08: HC 1062)

This is the Committee's scrutiny of the draft Apprenticeships Bill which was published on 16 July 2008. While putting much of the current arrangements for apprenticeships onto a statutory basis, the draft Bill provides greater flexibility to allow employers to design and bring forward for approval their own apprenticeship frameworks. The extent of this flexibility was not clear as a key document, the specification of apprenticeship standards, which will determine the core components of frameworks, was not published with the draft Bill. Nor did the Government set out in detail how the National Apprenticeship Service would be resourced or organised, or how the legislation would apply in Wales. These key omissions impeded the scrutiny process. With this in mind it was concluded that in general the legislation is justified because it has the potential to strengthen the structure for apprenticeships in England. However there was a major concern that it would produce volume at the expense of quality. The Government must ensure that the draft Bill is re-written to promote, monitor and report on the quality of apprenticeships. Without provisions underpinning quality, the legislation risks the devaluation of apprenticeships, and employers, parents and young people as well as adults will cease to see apprenticeships as a progressive route through to a future career.

Realistic expectations: accounting for young people's progress in training programmes

C. Devanney

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 22, 2009, p. 8-20

Policies related to training programmes in England are dominated by discourses of individualisation and based on a deficit model of the individual, where unemployment is attributed to the individual's lack of skills. Such assumptions underpin New Labour's agenda for tackling social exclusion, disaffection and disengagement. This paper looks how these policies are implemented and specifically at how front-line workers involved in delivering life skills training programmes to young people are held accountable for their performance and how their endeavours to hit targets influence the ways in which services are delivered.

Re-skilling for recovery: after Leitch, implementing skills and training policies

Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee

London: TSO, 2009 (House of Commons papers, session 2008/09: HC 48)

Lord Leitch published his review of skills which set out ambitious targets for 'upskilling' the UK population in December 2006. But since then the economic climate has worsened and reskilling, rather than upskilling, is increasingly becoming the norm and this report recommends that targets and the Government's allocation of resources must change to reflect that. The report also recommends a simplification of the system and urges a greater recognition of the involvement of trade unions in workplace learning. One of the central planks of the Leitch reforms is 'Train to Gain' through which employers gain access to funding and advice on training. The report uncovers evidence which is highly critical of the way the programme currently operates and concludes that radical reform is needed. The training and skills provision programmes involve millions of pounds of taxpayers money, they play a large part in the success of UK companies and the UK economy and, perhaps most importantly, they make a difference to the lives of millions of people. The current economic situation has raised the stakes: skills policy could be the key factor which determines how and when the UK economy recovers and grows.

Skills for life: progress in improving adult literacy and numeracy

Public Accounts Committee

London: TSO, 2009 (House of Commons papers, session 2008/09: HC 154)

Tackling poor literacy, language and numeracy skills is essential if more people are to realise their full potential and the country is to remain competitive in an increasingly global economy. The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills' biggest challenges are reaching people in the workplace who lack skills and getting employers to recognise the benefits of raising the skills of their workforce. This report examines the efforts made by the Department and the Learning and Skills Council to improve the literacy, language and numeracy skills of adults in England, focusing on the size of the problem, what is being achieved, what needs to be done and reaching more learners.

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