For over 10 years BBC’s The Apprentice has attracted large audiences and generated many stories in the press. However, can it continue in its current format?
No, we don’t mean due to a decline in ratings, but due to the Government plans to introduce new laws this Autumn to protect the term of ‘Apprenticeship’.
The number of apprenticeships has grown rapidly but there are real concerns that there may be a temptation for the term to be used for lower-quality courses just to make them more attractive to employers or learners. A recently published report by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector has added weight to this when it found that apprenticeships often failed to provide sufficient training to develop new skills. A number just focussed on simple tasks particularly in service sectors.
The Government has stated that the aim of an apprenticeship should be to help young people find real employment, with high quality on and off the job training, lasting over 12 months. It is considered that by consistently achieving this goal the apprenticeship ‘brand’ would grow in value and come to be regarded in business with just as much regard as a University qualification.
The measures being introduced to restrict when someone can use the term of ‘apprenticeship’ have already been passed in relation to the term ‘degree’. The unrecognised degree legislation was designed to prevent persons from offering a degree when they were not entitled to do this. This legislation has already been used to bring a number of prosecutions and between 2003 and 2008 there were successful enforcement cases against 18 offending bodies resulting in over half being closed down.
The new provisions will mean that it will be an offence for a person, in the course of business, to provide or offer a course or training as an apprenticeship if it is not a statutory apprenticeship. However it is important to note that this is being aimed at the course providers rather than the employers. Employers cannot commit the offence in relation to their employees.
Hopefully it will create a more ‘level playing field’ leading to greater opportunities for employees and more assurance for employers that they are investing in high quality apprenticeships.
However, as for the series the ‘The Apprentice’, will it be back in 2016 as ‘The Business Partner’?