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Ofsted savages apprenticeships

West Berkshire Training Consortium's Matt Garvey writes

John Herring



01635 886633

Ofsted salvages apprenticeships

A hard-hitting Ofsted review of apprenticeships has poured scorn on those weak providers and employers offering low-quality apprenticeship programmes.

The report is uncomfortable for those eager to increase the number of apprenticeships when Ofsted believes that the quality of existing apprenticeships is insufficiently rigorous.

The report has identified key findings which include:

  • Young people still face too many barriers to becoming apprentices.
  • Schools and colleges are not promoting apprenticeships sufficiently to young people and their parents. As a result, too few young people, particularly the most able and those who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, become apprentices.
  • Employers did not make sufficient contributions to the costs of apprenticeships. Too few of the employers interviewed indicated that they paid the contribution expected from them for the costs of training apprentices. As a result, a large majority of apprenticeships for those aged 19 and over were underfunded, which contributed towards their lack of off-the-job training.
  • Small- and medium-sized enterprises were not sufficiently involved in apprenticeships. New Trailblazer apprenticeships are dominated by large employers. Small companies are not involved enough in developing the new frameworks or in taking on apprentices.
  • The quality of the apprenticeship provision reviewed during the survey was too variable and often poor. Some apprenticeships were of a high quality and provided young people with good training that enabled them to develop new skills and knowledge in specialist vocational areas. However, too much provision was weak and failed to provide sufficient training to develop substantial new skills.

While it is hard to argue with most of the survey, in my opinion Ofsted and the government has failed to deal with the poor colleges and providers about which this report rails.

Success rates for apprentices have fallen five per cent in three years. This trend would be a national outrage if it had been repeated in GCSE or A-level results.

Sadly it has gone largely unreported and for those responsible far from being sanctioned they have sometimes been rewarded with even larger pots of funding.

Employers currently or potentially involved with apprenticeships should investigate their college or provider’s success rates over the last three years.

Do the rates go up or down and what does that say about the quality of the provision on offer?

Make informed decisions so that your business isn’t shackled to a poor apprenticeship provider as identified in this latest Ofsted report.

If you would like any further information then please contact me, Matt Garvey on

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