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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2010): Education - UK - training

The Apprenticeship Framework in England: a new beginning or a continuing sham?

M. Brockmann, L. Clarke and C. Winch

Journal of Education and Work, vol.23, 2010, p. 111-127

The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill is designed to provide a legal framework for work-based learning in the transition from school to adulthood via engagement with work as an employee. It aims to provide quality programmes and to facilitate the government's pledge to substantially increase the number of Apprenticeships. This paper identifies critical shortcomings in the approach to apprenticeship in England, which are likely to prevent it from fulfilling this aim, especially the lack of clear definition of what constitutes an apprenticeship framework, an educational component and employee involvement. It is shown that the current proposals mark a potential step backwards and a departure from the principles of the 1944 Education Act by ignoring general and civic educational elements in young people's formation. Above all, for any framework to be successful , it needs to take account of the longer term interests of employees and to address the issue of employer disengagement. The English approach is contrasted with that of other European countries, where vocational education and training is based on social partnership and the induction of young people into a broadly defined occupation.

Further problems

S. Court

Public Finance, Mar. 26th-Apr. 8th 2010, p. 24-25

The government is implementing radical reforms to the structure of further education funding in England. The Learning and Skills Council has been abolished and replaced by two new agencies, the Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA). The YPLA will fund and support councils which have taken over responsibility for all 14-19 provision. The SFA will fund colleges for adult skills provision.

New technical colleges 'will lead to selection by back door'

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 5th 2010, p. 8

Under plans supported by Labour and the Conservatives, as many as 100 university technical college (UTCs) could be established by 2015. The schools will offer specialist courses in areas such as bricklaying, manufacturing and fashion, with children choosing to transfer from conventional schools at 14. Teaching unions are concerned that the introduction of the new colleges could lead to a two tier education system.

Vocational qualifications and progression to higher education: the case of the 14-19 diplomas in the English system

A. Hodgson and K. Spours

Journal of Education and Work, vol. 23, 2010, p. 95-110

From September 2008, the English government began to introduce a new set of qualifications for 14-19-year-olds, called Diplomas, intended to prepare young people for both employment and higher education. The diplomas will be in competition with more attractive and recognised established qualifications, such as A-levels and BTEC National awards, and their reputation will depend on their ability to provide a progression route to university. Drawing on evidence from a variety of sources, including five seminars involving higher education admissions tutors and representatives of national agencies, this article suggests that the potential of the Diplomas to become a major route to higher education will be constrained by a what the authors describe as a 'low uptake, low understanding, low recognition and high complexity syndrome'.

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