Staying the courseOn 1 Feb 2000 in Personnel Today Abysmalcompletion rates for Modern Apprenticeships have sparked calls for a rethink inthe implementation of work-based training. By Patrick McCurryThemost recent statistics from the DfEE revealed that just 32 per cent of peopleleaving the Modern Apprenticeship scheme achieved an NVQ Level 3 qualificationor higher.Thefigures also show major discrepancies between sectors. The motor industry andengineering manufacturing performed better than average, with 44 per cent and36 per cent completion rates respectively, but the hospitality and retailingsectors only achieved 15 per cent and 11 per cent.JohnBrennan, director of further education development at the Association ofColleges, says: “I’m disappointed that one of the major government programmesfor young people has such a low success rate.”Headds that while the Government has been keen to challenge colleges on thesuccess of further education programmes it has been less vocal about the muchlower completion rates for modern apprenticeships. “The question is, what doesthe Government intend to do and is it committed to raising standards in thisarea of work-based programmes?”Oneof the main reasons for the low success rate appears to be the attitude ofemployers. A DfEE study last September on work-based training generally,Tackling Early Leaving from Youth Programmes, said some training providers hadsuggested “that a number of employers pressurise young people to leave trainingearly or to take up permanent employment with or without training”.Anotherproblem, according to the DfEE, was poor initial assessment by trainingproviders of young people entering programmes such as Modern Apprenticeships.It found assessment can range from an interview to establish exam results to amuch more rigorous assessment of basic and key skills. Proper initialassessment helps with retention, the study said.AdrianAnderson, director of policy at the NTO National Council, says: “It’s clear a lotneeds to be done on Modern Apprenticeships and that’s something both we and theDfEE recognise.”NTOshave developed the training frameworks delivered through Tecs, says Anderson,but he argues that NTOs could play a wider role in evaluating and monitoringModern Apprenticeships, which could help improve completion rates.“Wehave sent proposals to the secretary of state outlining a new role for nationaltraining organisations in evaluation, marketing and review of work-basedtraining,” he says, adding that this would be an appropriate task for NTOsbecause they enjoy strong employer backing.Anotherarea the Government is expected to examine is whether NVQ Level 3 is anappropriate completion point for all modern apprenticeships.Themuch lower success rates in sectors such as retailing suggest employers inthose areas do not necessarily feel trainees need to achieve such a highstandard.“Inretail, there is no tradition of NVQ Level 3 and employers often see Level 2 asan acceptable standard,” says Brennan.IainMurray, policy officer at the TUC, accepts this may be an issue and points toproposals by the NTO National Council for two modern apprenticeship tracks.“One would take young people to NVQ Level 2 and the other to Level 3.”Murray,while accepting there are a variety of reasons for the low success rate,stresses employers need to be aware of their responsibilities under theprogramme: “The modern apprenticeship debate is part of a much widerexamination of work-based training and we’re not just blaming employers forproblems.“Butit’s clear employers need to be aware of their roles and responsibilities inensuring young people receive the training they are supposed to.”Itis clear the DfEE will have to do a lot of thinking, says John Brennan, on howwork-based training will be delivered in the future, but he is sceptical aboutwhether changes will occur in the short term.“Atthe moment the Government is funding a Level 3 programme but only getting aLevel 2 output, so perhaps the funding regime needs to be rethought,” he says.“But I haven’t seen any indication that the Government is considering action.”Theabolition of Tecs, however, may provide an opportunity to reshape the system,he believes: “In the long term the abolition of Tecs and creation of learningand skills councils may provide a chance to look at this funding issue.”Casestudy: Matra Marconi SpaceSuccessor failure the employer’s choice, says space companyCommitmentby the employer is one of the key elements in a successful modernapprenticeship programme, according to Glyn Berrington, UK training anddevelopment manager at satellite manufacturer Matra Marconi Space.“Wehave a 100 per cent completion record for our modern apprentices and that isbecause we have high expectations from the word go and push our young peoplehard in employment and at college,” he says.Thecompany has around 40 young people doing modern apprenticeships in mechanicaland electrical engineering.Thecompany takes seriously its relationship with colleges, says Berrington, andhas a “preferred supplier” list of favoured training providers. It also ensurescommitment from young people by insisting all candidates for the scheme attenda one-day selection process to assess personal skills and motivation.Thekey to the success of the programme is not relying on others, such as colleges,but for the employer to take a proactive role in monitoring ModernApprenticeships, he says. “We rely on the colleges for the academic part, butit’s up to us to ensure the programme is working overall and to monitorpeople’s progress.”Inpractice, this means informing line managers of their responsibility and havinga dedicated member of the training staff whose job is to manage in-worktraining programmes for young people.“Wehave seen Tecs come and go in the same way as the old EngineeringTrainingBoard but, when it comes to how successful schemes like modern apprenticeshipsare, the buck stops with the employer,” says Berrington. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.