Better Apprenticeships draws on research by teams from the UCL Institute of Education and the Centre for Vocational Education Research at LSE to analyse the current state of play for apprenticeships in England.
‘Apprenticeship quality and social mobility’, authored by Alison Fuller & Laura Unwin from the UCL Institute of Education, analyses whether sufficient quality indicators are in place to facilitate social mobility for young people (aged 16-24) through apprenticeships. It also provides an analytical framework to support quality improvement through a more ‘expansive’ approach.
This is followed by ‘Apprenticeships for young people in England: Is there a payoff?’, from the LSE Centre for Vocational Education Research, which draws on a new analysis that tracks 565,000 young people age 16 to 28, examining inequities in access and labour market outcomes. Authored by Chiara Cavaglia, Sandra McNally and Guglielmo Ventura, the report asks whether there is an earnings differential from starting an apprenticeship for young people, whilst looking closely at the stark gender difference in earnings payoffs.
- There should be more advanced and higher apprenticeships, targeted at younger age groups, to give young people a platform for progression to higher level learning and careers including through university.
- Progression for those beginning on lower level apprenticeships should be seamless and automatic. Level 2 and 3 apprentices should not hit arbitrary glass ceilings and have similar chances as their A-level or graduate peers to access the next level, including higher and degree apprenticeships.
- Apprenticeships should all be of good quality and give apprentices the expertise and capability to adapt to change in the labour market, rather than merely the accreditation of current skills.
- The Institute for Apprenticeships and the levy should have a widening access function to ensure access to advanced and higher apprenticeships for those from less advantaged backgrounds.
- There should be a stronger drive from the government to support and encourage employers to improve the quality and availability of apprenticeships for young people, and to young people to take them up. Careers advice should more strongly take into account the benefits of apprenticeships as a route to labour market recognition and educational progression.
- Gender segregation should be tackled through better careers advice and not reinforcing gender stereotypes. Advice should be clearer about the potential careers, salaries and progression prospects that are likely to arise from undertaking an apprenticeship in different sectors. Employers should be aware of the need to diversify the employment pool in the interests of using all available talent and advancing social mobility for all groups.
- Government should ensure adequate funding for apprenticeships in non-levy paying employers. Adequate funding, across sectors, is essential for safeguarding quality and ensuring a valuable experience for apprentices.