Publication of the week: Professor Alan Smithers

15 August 2016

Smithers, A., “The philosopher’s stone? The case for national apprenticeship qualifications”, in Tess Lanning (ed.), Where Next for Apprenticeships? (London: CIPD, 2016), 18-24.

In Where Next for Apprenticeships, a policy report of the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development, Alan Smithers argues that the introduction of national apprenticeship qualifications would turn the Government’s hopes for the new apprenticeships into reality.

At present, apprenticeships act as containers for numerous individual qualifications, some of doubtful value and little relevance. There is little to drive the development of tailored training programmes.

National apprenticeship qualifications, the highest on par with degrees, would enhance the status of apprenticeships and help win acceptance of them as a genuine practical alternative to established academic ladders. Trainees would have something to aim for and something they could be proud of when successful.

Distinctive qualifications would also enable the Government to claim ownership of the apprenticeship brand, fully integrate the maths, English and other core learning with the practical skills, and make apprenticeships easier to regulate.

Apprenticeships are work in progress. The government has recently announced that an Institute for Apprenticeships will be responsible for developing 15 common frameworks, approving one technical qualification for each. But it will be left to employers whether to use these qualifications in their apprenticeship bundles.

The Government recognizes the problems an apprenticeship qualification would solve, but prefers other piecemeal solutions. It would be so much simpler to have national apprenticeship qualifications.

Details of the report are available on the CIPD website.

The full report can be downloaded here: Where next for apprenticeships (PDF file, 331 KB).

Read more about Professor Smithers and the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham.