The government’s plans for apprenticeships have left firms concerned over how they might meet the ambitious actions required of them. The Conservatives aim to create an extra 100,000 apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships each year, and despite their promise to give bonuses to small and medium business for each new apprentice they hire, the fact that less than 10% of employers currently offer apprenticeships means the proposition will be difficult to fulfill.
These fears continue on from the Labour government’s apprenticeship proposals, with plans for the establishment of a National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) similar in service to UCAS, and £1 billion in funds. Doubts have arisen over employers’ abilities to meet the expansion targets, especially given the current economic climate. Although the CIPD has welcomed the support of apprenticeships, it claims that there are “still issues to solve”.
One of the main concerns that has been raised includes the insufficient funding there will be to enable the plans, particularly given the government’s recent budget proposal. There are also fears over the high levels of bureaucracy involved, and the fact that the NAS would not directly engage with employers. But these will all have to be worked out by the coalition government as they review Labour’s plans, and until then firms can only wait to see exactly what will be required of them.
There are still those who look forward to an increase in apprenticeships, perhaps to the point where they become as mainstream an option as college or university.