• 1.2-1.5 million training posts to be created permanently in the economy to support 16-21 year old apprentices.
• Employers, National Trade Associations and Professional bodies to take charge of defining the content of apprenticeships training and assessment. Sector Skills Councils that are currently responsible for this are to be scrapped.
• A craft or professional apprenticeship qualification to include the practical experience needed to be considered time-served.
• Employers, including family businesses, to be compensated from existing budgets for training apprentices.
• New Tertiary institutions to be created in every local area to provide a dual system of education for 14-21 year olds.
• A Guild faculty in every Tertiary institution to support the apprentices and their local employers.
• New style exams for GCSE Maths and English.
• Employability skills to be developed through a new, core vocational syllabus aimed at Key Stage 4 students.
1. I have set out in previous comments some measures that could be used to combat the levels of youth unemployment currently being experienced in the country. Those measures including ‘twinning’ whereby older workers would be allowed to retire early provided a young unemployed had been recruited to fill their post. It included requiring a private notice period of six month of jobs offering less than £9.00 per hour to allow job centres opportunity to match the vacancies with young unemployed . Finally, there is the EnergyFix programme which reserved some of the full-time jobs that this would create for young unemployed.
2. These measures, however, were aimed at the current excess levels of youth unemployment arising from the last recession. The recent fall in youth unemployment is welcome but concern remains over the underlying structural problem which , for instance, saw levels of youth unemployment on the rise during the boom years prior to 2008.
3. I had a look at a number of sources whilst considering potential solutions to these issues. The bible, as far as the coalition is concerned, is the Wolfe Report. I also took in the views expressed by the CBI in their statements and surveys and the Holt review that looked specifically at promoting apprenticeships amongst small-to-medium size enterprises. I’ve also had some long-held views of my own.
4. Clearly vocational training and apprenticeships is the way forward but have we got the right support structure in the economy for this and are we pursuing policy that specifically seek to address structural rather cyclical unemployment levels amongst young people? The structural problem is not simply a case of a perennial shortfall in vacancies for young people. It is as much defined by the skills gap between what school-leavers can offer and what employers want.
5. The four biggest complaints from large and small employers arising from the Holt review and CBI surveys were:
- Vocational qualifications are rarely relevant to their business needs. The Apprenticeship Frameworks have been developed for big business and are ‘too wide and broad brush to be of use for small businesses’. Interestingly, big business is also not happy with the content of these qualifications.
- Both large and small firms complained that they get no help in funding the cost of training apprentices. In this they refer to the cost of supervision, on-the-job training, loss of productivity etc.
- The whole business of hiring apprentices is smothered in red-tape. Holt notes it can take upto one month for the national apprenticeship service to finally list a notified vacancy.
- There were complaints amongst large and small employers about the lack of employability skills amongst school-leavers .Holts describes this as a lack of work readiness. This includes basic numeracy and literacy. CBI surveys report on the number of companies needed to provide remedial education support for young workers in Maths, English and IT. The Wolfe report also expressed concerns on the attainment levels for Maths and English
6. It seems to me that the chief concern of the Wolfe report was around the poor quality of those vocational qualifications that did not appear to be recognised by either employers or colleges. The explosion in the uptake of these qualifications was partly caused by the notion of equivalence between vocational qualifications and GCSE’s being over-exploited.
7. Wolfe also called for employers to be compensated for training apprentices and held this up as a probably reason for the lack of interest from employers in offering apprenticeships. She was also of the view that the funding mechanism were costly compared to other countries due to the profligate use of intermediaries.
8. Whilst the national profile is improving with the development of entities like the National Apprenticeship Service ,(NAS), the local provision remains fragmented and without a focus .
9. Wolfe suggested Group Training Associations , (GTA), as a means for smaller local employers to become involved in training and assessment. Holt , on the other hand, talked in terms of Apprenticeship Training Agencies as means of minimising the risk to smaller employers. Some areas of the country have one or the other of these but most areas have neither. We shall see later that they also cater for different interests. There does not appear to be a national initiative to establish this type of provision in every local area which is to the detriment of both employers and apprentices alike.
10. There has been substantial progress increasing the number of new apprenticeship being started each year. There were 510,000 new starts in 2012/2013 which is up by 230,000 since 2009/10. However, those headline figures conceal the fact that 45% of those apprenticeships are being taken by those over 25 years of age. These apprenticeships are being used as a route out of unemployment by all ages. This provides youngsters with additional competition for places. The National Apprenticeship Service website has reported an average of 12 applications for each of the vacancies it carries with some positions attracting double that. There is no age restriction on becoming an apprentice. People automatically assume that apprenticeships referred to by politicians currently mean young people. That’s not the case.
11. The final concern is that creation of apprenticeship is both transient and random. There is not national plan that attempts to balance apprenticeships with the shape of the future workforce and skills shortages. I share the concerns of the CBI in that the race to get apprenticeships up and running is paying no regard to where the jobs are now and in the future. There is stark possibility of training too many people in the wrong kind of work ,or, as the CBI puts it:
“ The question around how the government supports investment in skills with public spending remains, particularly in the face of concerns around mismatches between skills being developed and relevant positions in the labour market”
12. Allowing that situation to continue will perpetuate the skills shortages and the structural youth unemployment problem regardless of how many apprentices are trained.
I propose a different national framework that will address some of the above issues.Some of these provisions echo or underscore work that is already under way or has been recommended and are included for completeness. Other recommendations represent a radical measure to drive out structural youth unemployment from the UK economy.
The National Framework.
1. ‘Ownership’ of the apprenticeship frameworks for trades and professions must be transferred to the relevant national trade association or professional bodies (NTA’s)
1.1. They will say that the apprenticeship frameworks have been drawn up by the consulting with employers but that is not good enough. They are taciturn as to which employers and how many.
1.2. There is persistent criticism from large and small businesses that the vocational qualifications are not as relevant as they should be.
1.3. There has been steps to address this issue. The Employers Ownership Pilot is a project in which approximately 250 companies have been granted funding to design their own apprenticeships frameworks. The National Apprenticeship Service also promotes the micro-enterprise concession. This is where business employing less than 10 staff can specify upto two units that they want they apprentices to study at college. These schemes are fine, albeit limited in scope, but these are exceptions to the status quo rather than the norm and that simply is not good enough judging by the criticism from employers.
1.4. It seems to me to be nonsensical to have government quangos in the shape of the Sector Skills Councils and OFQUAL drawing up apprenticeship frameworks which blithely disregard traditional practise and existing self-regulation. I viewed the framework for the accounting technician apprenticeship with some degree of horror. It had no regard for the existence of the Association of Accounting Technicians. This is a matter that should have been left to the accountancy profession to define. This kind of story is repeated right across the board.
1.5. It is not enough for DfE to tour the catalogue of vocational qualification around industry and commerce looking for employers to recognised them. NTA’s must take charge of the content, structure, and assessment of the apprenticeships that they own.
2. The amount of post qualification experience required by a trade or professional apprentice will be decided on by the NTA’s and not by government.
2.1. Trades and professions must be allowed to define an apprenticeship level that encapsulates the qualifying practise period for an apprentice to be considered time-served. This may , for instance, lead to the creation of new higher level apprenticeship for a given trade or profession to cover the required period of practical experience.
2.2. The government does not attempt to dictate to the professions such as accountants, solicitors or doctors how long it takes for their ‘members’ to become fully accredited. It should not attempt to do so with the trades .Government should not be in the business of determining the shape of apprenticeships. This, too often, has been made to fit the funding rather than developed to be respected by the relevant trade or profession. This was the chief criticism of YOP and YTS and the legacy of that thinking continues with the perpetuation of QCF units that have not been designed by employers. Some NTA’s may see a route that completes in two years. Others trades/professions may take five years to become time-served. That is entirely a matter for each NTA to decide for themselves.
2.3. The apprenticeships can start from Year 12 ( 16+). They can assume upto 80% of a 16-18 year old’s timetable is available for on-the-job training with the balance of the timetable being used for level 2 or level 3 studies that they deem necessary. This is a return to the old day-release system of apprenticeship training.
3. Sector Skills Councils should be scrapped and replaced with Sector Training Boards (STB’s) run by affiliated trade associations/professional bodies or a consortia of employers.
3.1. The current sector skills councils are not employer based and are nonetheless determining the content of vocational training. I believe this is largely responsible for disconnect between vocational qualifications and business needs.
3.2. Bringing in Sector Trading Boards is basically resurrecting and modernising the old mechanism in the 1950’s that governed the training of apprenticeships for what was once a large manufacturing sector.
3.3. The STB’s will define the core elements of an apprenticeship framework that all apprenticeships in that sector must contain in order to be accredited by the STB. This will essentially be the lowest common denominator for all of its affiliated members organisations.
3.4. Craft or occupational apprenticeships will then contain elements to ensure that the apprentice will be recognised as time-served by their trade association/professional body when they qualify.
3.5. Alternatively, Technical apprenticeships may contain custom elements specified by a local employer to reflect the specialist nature of the work they do.
3.6. Sector Training Boards could also be responsible for organising milk rounds and careers advise in educational institutions highlighting opportunities and pathways to Year 10 students on behalf of their members. This would be in line with Holts suggestion for schools to organise an “ Apprenticeship Spring” each year and go some way to addressing CBI concerns about careers advise in schools
4. Employer(s) should have the right to draw up their own technical apprenticeship frameworks containing optional elements that employers can use to ‘customise’ the framework for their business whilst still being broadly accredited by their sector.
4.1. A technical apprenticeship is one that has been tailored to suit the needs of a specific employer or a consortium of employers. It will have base in an identifiable business sector to ensure sector wide recognition.
4.2. Transferring ownership of trade and professional apprenticeship frameworks to the relevant trade association or professional body will be fine for those type of apprenticeships but will not necessarily go far enough for some employers. Some employers need a higher degree of granularity in defining their apprenticeship programs due to the specialist nature of the work that they do. They need an apprenticeship system that is more responsive to their needs.
4.3. The micro-enterprise initiatives does not go far enough. The principles behind the Employer Ownership Pilot now need to be applied universally.
5. NTA’s will need to use its existing members to establish a national network of verifiers for practical competencies for craft apprenticeship.
5.1. Wolfe calls for local employers to be involved in the verification of practical work and warns against expecting teachers to do this kind of thing . Employers need to have confidence that apprentices have obtained the proper standard. Teachers are not best placed to do this unless they themselves are time-serve d in the relevant trade or profession and have maintained that skillset. The national trade associations are ideally suited to create a national network of examiners for their own apprenticeship programs. This would be similar to practises in other countries
6. All agencies assuming regulatory powers over vocational qualifications apart from OFQUAL are to be abolished and the role of OFQUAL defined.
6.1. Wolfe is highly critical of the government tangle of regulation that has left policy in the hands of agencies and regulators.
6.2. OFQUAL role should be restricted to working with NTA ‘s to get their apprentices recognised internationally and verifying that the apprenticeship programs contain appropriate off-the-job study .
7. Each student should be allocated a teacher/trainer allowance (TTA) to compensate colleges and employers for the hours that they put into the student/trainee.
7.1. Wolfe calls for a radical overall of the funding regime with a move to per student funding rather than per qualification .
7.2. Wolfe is also rightly critical of costly funding regimes that support ‘middle tier ‘providers. Holt highlights the issues of some of those providers retaining 30-50% of allocations from the Skills Funding Agency before passing the balance to sub-contractors. The funding regime needs to be changed so that it is claimed against the presence of an apprentice rather than trickled down from the top.
7.3. Per student funding has been implemented at institutional level but I refute the claim from the DfE that employer training is being fully funded. Only the cost of level 3 studies at a college is being fully funded for under 18’s. The costs incurred by employers for on-the-job training in terms of supervision, training and loss of productivity are not being compensated for. Wolfe argues that employers are fulfilling the role of educators in this regard and should be compensated accordingly. I agree. The observation over compensation is supported by sentiment expressed by employers. The absence of any direct funding to support apprenticeship training is cited by 34% as a barrier to offering apprenticeships
7.4. Under my proposals, each year 12 would receive a Teacher/Trainer allowance (TTA) which can be expressed as a rate per hour on a normal working week.
7.5. Educational institutions would claim against TTA on the strength of the students timetable. If, for instance, a student has 60% of their time in college then the institution receives 60% of the TTA for that student . An employer would be able to claim upto 50% of the TTA for the hours worked by a student if they are employed in an apprenticeship capacity.
7.6. This is not new money. It is simply compensating employers out of existing budgets for the contribution they are making to the trainee’s education.
8. Family businesses should be able to claim training allowances just like any other employer.
8.1. I recall that there were some complaints that parents were not allowed to provide work experience or apprenticeships to their offspring. I’ m not sure if this remains the case or not. I have a clear view on the matter.
8.2. There has been a long tradition in many family owned businesses for skills and knowledge to be passed from parent to offspring. These small family trades are part of the backbone of the economy and a rich source of traditional training. There is no reason why this arrangement should be discriminated against as long as the syllabus laid down by the national trade association is followed and the practical work is verified externally.
8.3. As such, family businesses providing work experience, on-the-job training and apprenticeships for their own offspring should be entitled to claim the TTA training allowances just like any other employer.
9. BIS will work with employers through national trade associations and professional bodies to create between 1.2 and 1.5 million training posts in the British Economy for 16 to 21 year olds in a profile that reflects forwarding looking statements on future needs of the UK Economy.
9.1. The difference between a training post and an apprenticeship is that an apprenticeship may lead to full-time employment with the provider whereas a training post makes no such undertaking.
9.2. It is an implementation of the contracted education that the Germans proposed to combat cracks in their own dual education system.
9.3. UKCES produces a future work force report that provides forward looking statements on where demand for work will be in the near future. This should be used to profile the training post per sector/occupation that UK PLC needs to be create . BIS could co-ordinate action on this through the national trade associations. It would not be an exact science but it would be better than the policy vacuum that currently exists. Put more bluntly; there is little point in providing courses at college for 100,000 lithographic printer trainees if the economy is only going to support 20,000 of them.
9.4. This sort of macro-management linked to training posts is the long-term key to managing the structural problem of youth unemployment. It can only be led by a government department that has a view of the entire skills landscape for UK PlC. Managing the profile of the training posts in this way will go some way to addressing CBI concerns over skills mismatch and skill shortages. .
9.5. A training post is designed to ensure a youngster is able to a complete all levels of the apprenticeship required by his/her trade association and to become time served. Employers offering training posts would be able to claim 100% of the Teacher-Trainer Allowance,(TTA), for hours worked by the apprentice. This again is a nod to Wolfe’s recommendation over employers being able to access funding directly and going some way to addressing Holts call for more financial incentives.
9.6. A training post would need to include day or block release to college .It would not be necessary for one employer to provide training for all levels of an apprenticeship although that would be desirable. Employers would be free to offer both apprenticeships and training posts on the same payroll.
9.7. Some thought should be given to financial incentives to employers to create training posts on their payroll over and above the TTA allowance. Such measures may, for instance, include Holt’s suggestion for exemption from employers national insurance contributions on each post. CBI would support such a move.
9.8. The numbers assume that 50% of 16 years olds choose a vocational track after Key Stage 4 and a similar participation rate is seen at age 18 years.
9.9. The final key difference is that the training posts are restricted to the 16-21 year olds .
9.10. The program will achieve a quasi-permanent stock of 1.2-1.5 million training posts in economy by establishing 300,000 posts each year for five consecutive years as one particular cohort works through the system.
9.11. These training posts are the vocational equivalent to specifying the number of places at universities which is where the thinking needs to be if we are to have a dual system of education and training
9.12. It would be worth repeating the observation that there were 510,000 new start apprenticeships in the economy in 2012/2013 and that current estimates suggest that less than one in three SME’s are participating. The required number of training post could be generated from existing activity levels.
9.13 The problem with leaving the generation of apprenticeship places to random market forces is many fold:
- The apprenticeships are not restricted to young people
- There is no guarantee, year-on-year that there will be enough training places in the economy to support each generation of 16 year olds and above.
- There’s nobody at local level ensuring that there are enough places for local youth population.
- There’s no guarantee that all levels of an apprenticeship framework will be available in a given local area.
10. Department of Business, Innovations and Skills must simplify the health and safety issues and employment rights for 16-18 years for employers. BIS must also fulfil its promises to reduce the bureaucracy surrounding the employment of young apprentices.
10.1. Businesses reported little progress on reducing bureaucracy despite commitments to do so.
10.2. Health and Safety issues, employment rights and excessive red tape have all been cited by employers as barriers to participation in apprenticeships during both the Wolfe or Holt reviews.
10.3. BIS must take the lead in government in minimising these obstacles by issuing simple and definitive rules on each area to employers. These rules need to overrule any other directives coming from other parts of government or NGO’s in order to provide the clarity that employers need and provide a one-stop-shop on such matters.
11. A new curriculum framework be introduced for 14-16 year olds in the maintained sector that addresses the issue of employability skills in those seeking apprenticeships after CGSE.
11.1. Wolfe advocates a common core curriculum that all pupils should follow at Key Stage 4 and I agree. This common core should be kept to the minimum in order to allow student choice. All maintained schools and colleges should be free to choose which elements of the national curriculum they offer as per studio schools and university technical colleges. Conversely, all schools and colleges must be required to follow the common core regardless as to their status. I understand DfE have consulted on this matter but seem unable or unwilling to provide LEA schools and colleges with the freedom afforded other institutions. I would forsee a common core consisting of English ,Maths and one of the Sciences. Student options should then cover the rest of the timetable.
11.2. A student may choose to pursue purely academic subjects in addition to the common core. This would appeal for those aiming for predominately A-level study after GCSE’s. Alternatively, a student may choose the vocational theme that consists of a core vocational syllabus and any other options that the student wishes to pursue. These other options could include other GCSE’s such as a Foreign Language or ICT . it could also include vocational qualifications that have been approved by the appropriate Sector Training Board as a precursor for post-16 apprenticeship(s).
11.3. The core vocational syllabus is a two year program fostering employability skills through teamwork and business orientated projects. These skills are defined as self-management, teamwork, business/customer awareness and problem solving. This makes no apologies for emulating the classroom based work done by studio schools in this area. Both BTEC and City and Guilds would be commissioned to design the syllabus and supporting teacher resources.
11.4. The other issue of communication, literacy and application of numeracy identified as key employability skills by the CBI should be addressed by redesigning the GCSE syllabus for Maths and English. I’ve expressed a view on this elsewhere. ( Appendix 1)
11.5. The issue of work experience, which is required in studio schools, is discussed separately. In the broader context of employability skills. (Appendix 2)
Delivering the national framework
1. Any national framework needs to be delivered at local level by an appropriate mechanism. I ‘ve considered a range of existing models from home and abroad. This includes the German dual education system, Studio schools, University Technical colleges, Group Training Associations and Apprentice Training Agencies. Free schools and academies are outside the scope of what’s being discussed here. They are simply a different type of school
2. Under the German system, pupils are actually tracked between vocational and academia at the age 14. Some will be directed to the vocational school where they will spend two years before going onto to try and secure an apprenticeship. Others are tracked academically and need to complete the equivalent of the GCSE’s at the age of 16 before being allowed to study for university entrance exams. There is the option for eighteen year olds to switch over to the technically demanding and better paid apprenticeships and this has been an increasingly popular route for German youth. It is the lower secondary vocational school that has been falling out of favour with pupils and parents alike. There is a desire to delay specialising in order to be able to aim for the higher paid work as an apprentice. Wolfe has also cited evidence from other countries that shows choices between academic or vocational training are delayed as long as possible. I agree with the argument against early specialisation.
3. The other factor that people should take into account is that the nature of the Germany economy is entirely different to ours. They have a much bigger industrial base and a strong system of guilds that have defined the equivalent of training manuals for most occupations in Germany. You can see that there was an attempt to emulate this with the work of the Sector Skills Councils and Occupational Standards Board. That might have worked if the British mandarins had put employers in charge of the system like they are in Germany. They didn’t and we have a significant number of employers complaining about the lack of relevance in UK vocational qualifications. Transferring the design and control of apprenticeships programs to the trade associations and professional bodies is critical to that process as is tabling the notion that a craft or professional apprenticeship framework must include the qualifying practical experience that the NTA’s require.
4. Both Studio schools and University Technical Colleges (UTC) offer dedicated facilities for the education and training of 14-18 year olds. Both will spend part of their curriculum on practical work and the rest of those subjects of the national curriculum that they choose to offer. Both are supposed to have strong links with local employers and, in the case of a UTC, a local university.
5. The key attractions of these type of facilities are fourfold. First they operate on business hours which helps young people get used to adult timetables. Second they have the freedom over the national curriculum that the maintained sector does not enjoy. Third, there are strong links with local employers in support of the practical work that’s included in the curriculum. Finally, these are dedicated facilities for 14-18 year olds which are as much orientated to the world of work as they are to universities.
6. UTC’s will unashamedly describe themselves as technical schools that are training the inventors, engineering and scientists of tomorrow. The majority of UTC’s seem to specialise in engineering. Other sectors such as health sciences or product design are represented but not too the same extent. They are not, therefore, a solution for the trades or most occupational apprenticeships but will be of interest to those pursuing STEM based careers. There is just the one UTC in Lancashire, at Burnley. Another is planned to open in Bolton. Access to a UTC currently depends on where you live or how far you are prepared to travel.
7. Studio Schools seemed to be focused on fostering the employability skills through enterprise projects commissioned by local employers. There is strong emphasis on enquiry based learning for those aspects of the national curriculum that they are following. They have an interesting view on work experience with all pupils required to undertake it from Year 10. This can be half-a-day per week raising to two days per week by Year 13 depending on the requirements of their industrial partners.
8. The impression I have of studio schools is that they are doing much to address the issue of employability skills highlighted by the CBI in terms of self-management, teamworking , customer and business awareness and problem solving . They do not appear to be grounding any of that in an apprenticeships which would leave a graduate well on the road to being time served in a given trade or profession. A glance through the curriculum notes leaves one with the view of a school that is trying to foster the next generation of managers and company executives. That has its place but is not a universal solution any more than UTC’s are. There is only one studio school in Lancashire, at Darwin, and there do not appear to be any plans to open any more in the near future. Access to a studio school ,as with UTC’s, currently depends on where you live or how far you are prepared to travel
9. Some have argued that UTC’s and Studio schools are elitist; a backdoor privatisation of the education system; a dismantling of local education authorities and a fragmenting of provision for 14-18 year olds. There is no shortage of political ideologies on both sides.
10. Group Training Associations appear to be a consortia of employers that form a training facility in their area and/or sector. Employers subscribe to off-the-job training centre to deliver the vocational education that they want for their apprentices. The GTA’ s support the employers that set them up so they are not a universal panacea for all apprenticeships. There’s no brand identity. They go under a variety of names so they are not easy to find. There are approximately 40 of these nationwide. Two of them are in Lancashire, one in Blackburn and the other is in Horwich. GTA’s are not capable of supporting the theoretical aspects of an apprenticeships and would need to rely on an appropriately geared school or college for those purposes. They are narrowly defined to the sectors that there members represent and have no interest in GCSE education. Access to a GTA also depends on where you live and what sector you want to work in.
11. Apprenticeship Training Agencies are authorised by the National Apprenticeship Service. The ATA’s organise apprentices for local employers with the local employer paying the salary plus a management fee. The ATA will arrange a placement with another employer if things don’t work out. Employers are not obliged to hire the apprentice at the end of their term. Like GTA’s there is no brand identity for ATA’s. They go under a variety of names. It is something an existing training provider can apply to become. ATA’s can support the off-the-job training that an apprenticeship programme requires but do not appear to support KeyStage 4 or 5 GCSE studies like Studio Schools and University Technical Colleges. There are approximately 50 ATA’s nationwide. It was not possible from reviewing the names they go under to discern whether there are any in Lancashire.
12. In short, this pluralism of schools, colleges, associations and agencies is a confusing and fragmented picture to employers, parents apprentices and commentators alike
13. The lack of any initiative to establish a national network of local institutions to encapsulate a dual system of education and training for every local area does not serve us well.
14. Holt championed the notion of the National Apprenticeship Service to be promoted as a one stop shop for apprentices. This is fine nationally but there needs to be the equivalent local focus that can be broadly marketed to young people and employers alike.
15. There should be a local institution that young people interested in becoming an apprentice could go to. Similarly business owners looking to provide or hire apprenticeships also need a single point of reference in their local area. Business has complained that there is no one-stop shop for getting involved locally. NAS, for its part, have complained about the lack of access to schools to promote apprenticeships to students.
16. Having such a focus locally will aid in ‘promoting the brand’ as Holt puts it and provide a national grid of support for both apprentices and smaller local businesses.
17. I believe , therefore, that we need to rethink how we organise education and training . All of the discussion above has been about education and training of the 14-19 year olds. I say we need a institution that is dedicated to this age group and which is able to give equal esteem to the vocational track. I do not believe that is possible in existing secondary school models under the Department for Education and Ofstead. Vocational education and training will always play second fiddle to the exam factory.
18. Youngsters need to start acclimatising to the adult world if they are to make that transition successfully and employers will want to engage with potential recruits in an adult environment. There is merit, for instance, in adopting business hours timetables for 14-19 years as evidenced by Studio schools and University Technical Colleges but that is not appropriate for younger children. Trying to accommodate both in the same institutions muddles the ethos of that institution and fails to provide the pupil with psychological and physical evidence of a step change in their education and training.
19. One of the things Wolfe called for is the right of colleges to enrol students from the age of 14 upwards. Wolfe was also critical of the fact that Further Education lecturers were not recognised as teachers for secondary schools. This created barriers to bringing time-served professionals into schools to deliver the vocational education. These areas have been addressed with reforms but they remain symbols of the artificial demarcation lines that exist between schools and Further Education . The raising of the school leaving age to 18 means that we can take a step back and challenge the traditional notions on how education and training for the compulsory period is organised.
20. I believe that we should introduce a three-tier-education system in this country and that we should do this by expanding Further Education Colleges. We need an education tier that is as much focused on getting its 18 year old graduates into work as it is in getting them into universities. Three tier systems were ‘experimented’ with by many local areas in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Most eventually reverted to the secondary school system that people are familiar with today. The circumstances have changed though. There is much firmer recognition of the need for dual system of education and we also have the raising of the school leaving age.
21. Under my proposals, subject to local consultation, Further education colleges would be invited to take over one or more secondary schools in their area and convert them into campuses delivering GCSE education for 14-18 year olds. The further education colleges would then become Adult and Tertiary Institutions. Each ATI would contain a Guild Faculty dedicated to supporting 16-21 year old apprentices and their employers.
The Adult and Tertiary Training Institutions (ATI’s).
1. A new model for further education colleges, the Adult & Tertiary institutions (ATI’s) should be rolled out to absorb the best principles of UTC’s and studio schools whilst building on the demonstrable successes of Further Education Colleges.
2. ATI’s would be organised into faculties that can be aligned with different stakeholders and paymasters. They would run on business hours. Each faculty could operate over one or more campus sites depending on the size of the intake and local need. They should, however, aim to limit the size of each campus to optimise the pastoral care dimension.
3. An Academic faculty would be responsible for GSCE education for 14-18 year olds. The Department for Education retains jurisdiction over such faculties with respect to monitoring performance. These Academic faculties would be encouraged to forge partnerships with local universities with a view to offering foundation degrees or other university access courses .
4. A Guild faculty would be formed to delivery all off-the job training for local employers. This faculty would come under the jurisdiction of the Department of Business, Innovations and Skills, (BIS). It’s performance would be monitored separately and in a way that is transparent to parents and students alike. This faculty would incorporate the work of both Group Training Associations and Apprenticeship Training Agencies.
5. The Guild, like GTA’s, would be run by local employers. It will provide the full range of standard off-the job training for craft apprenticeships and bespoke training for those employers that have commissioned it . This faculty will be the local institution that is primarily responsible for building up the number of training posts to match the needs of the local demographic as part of the national initiative to create 1.2-1.5 million training posts for 16-21 year olds. It will be the local one-stop for employers and apprentices alike.
6. The Adult Education Faculty absorbs the functions of an adult education college into the institution to deliver courses aimed at adults including adult literacy and numeracy. There will be one other key role for this faculty which will be outlined in the proposals regarding higher education.
7. The ATI will have the option to form a Technical faculty. This faculty would specialise in STEM apprenticeships in partnership with a local university and employers. The University Technical College model is therefore absorbed into these tertiary institutions. A technical faculty could sit alongside private UTC’s in same local area where the two institutions are offering different specialisms
8. The tertiary institutions can be shaped to local needs and structured at faculty level to allow each of the different stakeholders their proper due. Vocational tracks in these institutions would not be eclipsed or skewed by DfE performance tables and the artificial barriers between teachers and age of enrolment highlighted in the Wolfe Report are removed. Rolling out ATI’s to every local authority in the country will end the current post code lottery of provision. The mantra ,locally, for young people and employers alike who are interested in apprenticeships would be to contact the local Guild.
9. The creation of a tertiary institution in each local area would have a profound impact on the local secondary schools as the 14-16 year old population is transferred out. This, however, presents an opportunity to secondary schools.
10. There is an opportunity to review class size and size of population with a view to reducing each. Smaller schools tend to have better pastoral care and are less intimidating to pupils. There is opportunity to abandoned temporary or dilapidated accommodation and possibly return some land to playing area or parking.
11. I’ve set out elsewhere how the tertiary institution would be mapped to one particular local areas by way of an example ( Appendix 3.).
12. I’ve also set out how these changes to the education system would be seen from the students point of view, including choices they would have, and the timing of decisions they will need to make. ( appendix 4)
1. I agree with most of the recommendations of the Wolfe report. I do, however, have differing views on the need for apprenticeship to include study to a level that facilities access to higher education. Not everybody wants to go to university or has an aptitude for study at that level. I also strongly disagree on the requirement for young people to study ‘academic’ Maths and English until aged 19 unless they have obtained a grade C. Employers need a benchmark exam for Maths and English , at GCSE level, that they control. Much of the recommendations that Wolfe made to protect the vocational system from DfE performance tables would not be relevant under my proposals since I demand a total separation of the vocational track . Recommendations to compensate employers for training apprentices have not , in my view, been implemented by the DfE and they are criticised for that. I have mapped out elsewhere (Appendix 5) all of the Wolfe recommendations to the new national and local framework I am proposing.
2. There has been substantial progress in improving the framework of vocational education in this country. Local provision, however, is a post code lottery and likely to remain so if left to market forces. Studio schools and University Technical colleges are not a panacea for the total apprenticeship landscape. They do not, for instance, have any regard to the trades. The key strengths of these models should nonetheless become more universally available than at present.
3. There has also been substantial progress in boosting the number of apprenticeships in the economy. This, however, is random, transitory and not targeted at 16-21 year olds. It is crucially important that we shift to a permanent ‘stock’ of training posts to support those that want an apprenticeships in the same way that we are maintain a capacity of undergraduate places at universities. Only then will you have a proper dual system of education and training in the UK.
4. I have set out what I believe to be a flexible model of tertiary and adult education that will support all of the above . It endeavours to build on the strengths of existing institutions and provide universal access to a dual system. Both the main political parties have contributed to a strengthening of the education system. New Labour introduced the academies and continue to support this model. The coalition have addressed many of the concerns highlighted in the Wolfe report and have showcased models such and UTC’s and Studio Schools. I believe parents would appreciate it if the main stream parties would stop using education as a political football and put their heads together.
5. I set out elsewhere proposals on reform of the House of Lords to ensure that key aspects of British Society were reflected in its legislature. This should include Teachers, Unions, large and small employers and students. I would expect to see the House of Lords reformed in that manner before any further changes to the education system were debated.