Shaking Up Apprenticeships
For almost a generation, apprenticeships have languished as an also-ran option for school leavers and other young people. The proud and sought after positions became a second class ride to the nationwide drive to attend the expanding universities.
Historically, apprenticeships were the domain of the upper classes, who would send their prodigy to a master who would contract for a period of seven years to teach the knowledge of the trade, feed and house, and also look to the child’s moral welfare.
In 1563 the Statute of Artificers augmented the apprenticeship, setting recommended levels of competence to be attained, a fore runner of the apprenticeship minimum standards today.
For centuries the system was a favoured choice of many, falling from favour as the industrial revolution heralded the overturn of much skilled work to the new machinery.
Apprenticeships rallied with new nineteenth century, as apprenticeships were being forged in the new industries of iron and steel engineering, electricals, and plumbing gas and water supplies.
Towards the end of the nineteen seventies, apprenticeships began to languish, and by the mid nineteen nineties, there were just half the number taken up.
A number of face lifts brought some interest back to apprenticeships, with the Modern Apprenticeships foremost. It made apprentices sign up for a minimum of one year, but under scored that the importance of an apprenticeship was not in the length of tenure, but the transferable qualifications they received. The scheme also put Modern Apprentices on a footing with employees, and hence would be paid a wage, and receive a proportion of time with independent professional training.
The government has gone to great lengths to bring the apprenticeship back into a favoured frame of mind. It has made commitments for its “2020 Vision” for training, which part of its drive to have three million apprenticeship places by that year.
One of its fundamental foundations comes into action in April 2017 with the introduction of the apprenticeship levy. This is a revenue that firms with a payroll in excess of £3million per year will pay, at a rate of 0.5% of the payroll total, to a central fund.
This will be available to businesses to draw from to assist in taking on new apprentices, along with funding the governments “hearts and minds” campaign to bring back the more positive attitude towards hands on learning, and the benefits of earning while you learn, while providing industry with skills based training and real time experience.