Employers should be rated on their ability to produce high-quality apprentices particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, according to new recommendations calling for sanctions on businesses underpaying workers.
A new report from the Education Committee, – “The apprenticeships ladder of opportunity: quality not quantity” – said the government should introduce a kitemark system for good apprentice employers to encourage best practice and help apprentices choose the best employer for them.
The call came as the report found that UK apprentices are failing to get the high-quality training they need to prosper in business and in life. It said not only was training lacking quality, but that disadvantaged people were not being given the support they need to pursue an apprenticeship.
It recommended redoubling efforts to recruit apprentices from disadvantaged backgrounds and help them climb the “ladder of opportunity”.
The report also called for the creation of more bursaries, increases to the apprenticeship minimum wage significantly above inflation, and increased incentives for small and medium-sized businesses and social enterprises to take on apprentices.
It said there should be stronger enforcement and more severe sanctions for employers who fail to pay the apprentice minimum wage.
The report, whilst recognising the ‘good work’ being done by many further education colleges and independent training providers, also called for a clearer oversight of apprenticeship training and assessment and a tougher approach to poor quality training.
It recommended an expanded role for Ofsted inspections and a cap on the amount of training that new providers can offer until they have proved their provision is of sufficient quality.
“Apprenticeships can offer an extraordinary ladder of opportunity for young people to get the skills, training and jobs they need to ensure security and prosperity for their future,” said Robert Halfon MP, chair of the Education Committee. “There has been an explosion in the number of training providers in recent years but neither employers nor apprentices can have genuine confidence that quality training is being provided by these new entrants.”
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