“Apprenticeships – put quality before quantity” expert reaction to election education campaign

Commenting on Labour and Conservative messages on apprenticeships in today’s election campaigning Professor Ewart Keep, Director, Centre on Skills, Knowledge & Organisational Performance, Oxford University said:

“Politicians of all parties have latched on to apprenticeship as the new ‘miracle cure’ for weaknesses in vocational learning. There are a number of problems with this. First, apprenticeships are already undergoing a massive programme of reform, and we should see how well these work before embarking on yet further change.

We also have existing problems with uneven quality in provision, and we need to know these has been addressed before we opt for further expansion – quantity has often been the enemy of quality in apprenticeship policy to date.

In addition, expansion is dependent upon employers providing enough high quality opportunities and contributing more towards the costs of learning. It is an open question whether this will happen on a large enough scale to deliver what the politicians want.”

NOTES TO EDITORS: Extracts from Labour’s Education Manifesto and PA reports of messages about vocational learning from today’s campaign trail are below

Labour will:

• Deliver a new gold-standard Technical Baccalaureate for 16 to 18 year olds

• Ensure all young people study English and maths to 18

• Raise standards in FE, with new Institutes of Technical Education

• Guarantee all young people face-to- face careers advice

• Give every young person that gets the grades has the right to a high quality apprenticeship

• Introduce new Technical Degrees delivered by universities and employers

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said: “Britain succeeds when all of our young people are supported to reach their potential. Too many young people are having opportunities closed off to them – whether that be accessing our leading universities or high quality apprenticeships.”

Mr Cameron said:

“We’ve already created 2.2 million apprenticeships since 2010 but a future Conservative government is committed to opening up three million more high quality apprenticeships – to help strengthen our economy and communities and give millions more people financial security.”

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