New report shows impact of new apprenticeship reforms

‘England’s Apprenticeships – assessing the new system’ is the latest report from Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) to show the breakdown of apprenticeships in recent years.  This report highlights how, even though apprenticeships are branded to focus on youth unemployment, it’s actually older age ranges who are benefiting from an apprenticeship.

There has been an increase of 30% in the total number of apprenticeships between 2010/11 and 2014/15, with the ‘over 25s’ age group securing over 360,000 places, 19-24 year olds securing 315,000 and only 194,000 under 19’s, a fall by 8,000.

This trend is predicted to continue with the introduction of the latest government reforms regarding apprenticeships, namely the transition from frameworks to standards.  Currently apprenticeships are delivered according to frameworks which secures the apprentice a nationally recognised qualification upon completion.  The government has moved from frameworks to standards in a bid to put the employer at the heart of what is delivered during an apprenticeship, so the apprentice learns exactly what the employer requires them to.  While this is a positive for both learner and employer, one radical change is that the learner won’t receive a nationally recognised qualification in all sectors, rather just an end-point assessment.  One of the biggest selling points of an apprenticeship has been that young people can earn a qualification, learn on the job skills and earn a living while not ending up with the financial burden of going to university.

With this in mind, some sectors have had standards developed where employers or professional bodies have not been involved, and employers could encompass other existing training programmes under the name of an apprenticeship so they can access the funding available for apprenticeships.  This would lead to more existing staff being trained through an apprenticeship opposed to creating new opportunities for younger workers; which is named by the government as the main focus for apprenticeships, to reduce youth unemployment.  The IPPR report shows that in 2014, 64% of apprentices were ‘internal recruits’ opposed to new employees.  In addition to this, 80% of Level 2 apprentices already held an equivalent Level 2 qualification, for example 5 GCSE’s graded above C, defeating the purpose of an apprentice which is to teach learners new skills to help with their career.

The IPPR report, which is due to be officially released next week, has made the following recommendations:

  • The new apprenticeship standards should be reconsidered to ensure that learners receive a nationally recognised qualification, as well as consider the results of the Sainsbury Review and Post-16 Skills Plan.
  • Review the apprenticeship levy to also include smaller employers as well as relieve some of the administrative burden.
  • More focus on Level 3 apprenticeships and above, and instead create a ‘pre-apprenticeship’ route at Level 2 for 16-18 year olds.
  • Extend the deadline to reach 3 million apprentices further than 2020 to focus on quality not quantity.

Under the new standards, while a variety of sectors will no longer receive a qualification, Early Years and Health & Social Care will still do so, two apprenticeships that Aspire Training Team specialise in, along with business administration, team leading and management.  If you have any questions regarding hiring an apprentice or how the apprenticeship levy could impact your business, you can contact the team on 01202 551553 or email


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