A report compiled by the House of Commons British Innovation and Skills Committee (BIS) concluded that the quality of British apprenticeships is more important than quantity.
This is a welcome move which will see standards raised amongst apprenticeships and ensure a high quality of training within apprenticeships, which ultimately will lead to a higher trained future workforce.
Apprenticeships are often unfairly untarnished as being a route for the less academically minded. Whilst apprenticeships are vocational in nature, offering hands on experience leading to a qualification and normally a job position, it is not a route for less able candidates.
The emphasis on apprenticeships, is that they are aimed for individuals who have the desire to work in a practical environment and have the skills and aptitude to undertake this type of skilled work.
By contrast, a degree is aimed for the academically minded person who will undertake most of their study on paper with a smaller element of practical experience in order to obtain a qualification to improve their prospects on the jobs market.
Whichever route is chosen, whether academic or vocational, the qualifications have the same value.
The aim to make apprenticeships more challenging to suit the demands of the industry concerned. At Trade Skills 4U, we think this is a great idea. We have had several 17th edition electricians telling us that they spent the first year or longer of their electricians apprenticeship sweeping floors, visiting electrical wholesalers for materials, making the tea for the boss and if they were lucky, observing some electrical work in between.
There is a distinct lack of opportunity to gain relevant hands on experience and many electrical apprentices are entering the jobs market without the essential skills needed to successfully pursue a career in the electrical industry. The BIS report is calling for the standards to be raised to ensure each candidate is given a quality experience with providers needing to demonstrate the learning experience they will be providing to ensure suitable electricians are being brought to the jobs market.
Whilst the government is heavily extending its apprenticeship programme, it is important that this does not result in a lack of focus on what the apprenticeship scheme will be delivering.
It is now time to remove the tainted image of apprenticeship and electrician training and a closer partnership needs to be developed within schools to raise the standards of entrants who enter vocational training. The construction industry as a whole faces a huge shortage of suitably qualified domestic electricians and installers. Changes are needed to the current 17th edition model and schools need to take essential basic education more seriously and not use the apprenticeship route as a dumping ground.
The electrical industry offers opportunity for all but a successful career is not made by sweeping floors for 2 years. It is gained by quality, dedicated training opportunities, the opportunity to gain hands on experience. The training does not have to be so prolonged, the candidate looses focus or the ability to continue. The opportunity to fit training around lifestyle is of paramount importance as well as the opportunity to earn as soon as possible.
Here at Trade Skills 4U we are able to train electrical apprentices in the core units much quicker than most colleges. We operate a system of two weeks on two weeks off for privately funded students and for those who are employed in an electrical apprentice role they can train 1 week a month for 16 months. This means they will learn skills that are useful to their employer in a much shorter space of time. This all means one thing, less tea and sweeping up and much more proper hands on work that is going to make them much more useful to their employers.