Call to standardise apprentice training

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is calling for the Government to standardise apprentice training and funding across the different sectors of industry.

The federation is calling for a clear, single definition of an apprenticeship to help remove inequalities in funding, training standards and achievements across different sectors of industry.

The FMB's demand came after a report from the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee which recognises the crucial role of apprenticeships in providing valuable employment opportunities and supporting sustainable economic growth.

The report also indentifies many sensible ways in which to reform the apprenticeship programme to help it succeed.

MPs on the select committee have echoed a number of recommendations from the FMB including that a single definition is needed to clarify the apprenticeship brand and enable effective regulation.

“For that reason we recommend that the Department formulates a definition of an apprenticeship,” said the FMB. “Apprenticeships are successful when they are employer-led and the qualifications are designed to equip the learner with the skills required by the sector. Employers in the construction industry firmly believe apprenticeships are the best way to learn a trade and levels of satisfaction from learners and employers are high.”

Another key FMB recommendation taken forward by the select committee is that the National Apprenticeship Service produces a longer-term strategy outlining how it intends to maintain and improve the apprenticeship brand.

Funding is also a major issue and the FMB wants a detailed assessment of the impact that the funding structure has had on the take up of apprentices by age group.

“The reduced funding available for age 19-plus apprenticeships limits the rate of progression in the construction industry to level-3 programmes and has a negative impact on the industry’s ability to meet its skills needs,” said the federation.

In August a railway engineering group announced it was to create 100 apprenticeships in York over the coming months.

Vital Skills Training, part of the Vital Services Group (VSG), teamed up with York College to launch a new programme at the Yorkshire Rail Academy (YRA), an existing partnership between York College and the National Railway Museum, based at the NRM, to teach the 100 rail engineering apprentices.

Vital Rail, the specialist rail engineering arm of VSG, reopened its York office in April. It said that its success in the region created the need for a dedicated training programme and it committed to increase the number of apprentices it employed significantly in 2012. The programme will support learners working on rail projects across Yorkshire and the East of England.

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