Apprenticeships are making the headlines again this week as Sir Michael Wilshaw, Head of Ofsted, has spoken out against meaningless apprenticeships where the skills on offer are little more than making the coffee or sweeping the floor.
Unlike "The Apprentice" where the successful candidate works alongside Lord Sugar, Sir Michael fears that many apprenticeships are damaging vocational education and not delivering key skills required in the workplace. Meaningless apprenticeships only serve to perpetuate the widely held belief that vocational training is of less value than a university degree.
The concerns are voiced in the context of the Government aiming to increase the current level of 350,000 apprenticeships to 3 million by 2020. Furthermore according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, many employers may be tempted to meet government requirements on apprenticeships by transferring regular training programmes to apprenticeship schemes.
Tessa Meadows-Smith of RMS Recruitment Ltd offers advice for those considering low paid apprenticeships or unpaid internships:
- Check the level of the Apprenticeship on offer – a Level 5 apprenticeship will have higher earning potential than an undergraduate degree from a university outside the Russell Group.
- Consider a government approved Business and Administration Apprenticeship which provides training for PA and Secretarial jobs.
- Clarify the Apprenticeship role, salary and exactly what training will be provided.
- Internships are only worth considering if you have financial support, as it is thought to cost over £900 a month to work unpaid in London.
- Apprenticeships and Internships are not the only option for inexperienced school leavers: many large employers now run school leaver training programmes to 6th form students with good A Levels.
“To maximise your chances of securing a career at the end of the Apprenticeship, make sure to learn as much about your employers’ business as you can, not just the skills you are being trained for. The top PAs and secretaries we place are successful because they rapidly assimilate the business and culture of the companies recruiting them”.
Sources: “It’s time to tackle Mickey Mouse Apprenticeships” Josie Gurney-Read, Online Education Editor The Telegraph 19/10/15