Apprenticeship Providers: All the same?
Apprenticeships are often in the news but recently it has not been for positive reasons. Ofsted recently completed a thematic review of apprenticeships, which was published on 22 October 2015. This said that the rapid increase in the number of apprenticeships established has devalued the brand and led to a drop in quality.
It seems that some providers are giving others a bad name by lowering standards, which is frustrating for organisations such as CMS Vocational Training Ltd, as our success rests on our reputation for providing high-quality training and supporting our apprentices and trainees through their courses.
How many apprentices are there in Britain?
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) statistics show that almost 900,000 people are undertaking an apprenticeship in Britain at present, which is the highest number since records began.
What particular criticisms have been levelled at the industry?
The Ofsted report was particularly negative about lower level qualifications, such as Business Administration, Customer Service and Health & Social Care.
One example given of apprentices not receiving sufficient training was in the retail sector, where apprentices have been said to be gaining accreditation simply by simply making coffee, serving food and cleaning floors.
Other criticisms include that many learners are not even aware they have been enrolled onto an apprenticeship and that there’s a lack of professional level skills delivered alongside vocational skills.
In some cases more communication and collaboration is needed – in particular between providers and employers, and providers and schools. Some providers are only focusing on the money and not on the support and training they should be offering and there is an overall lack of information on the long-term impact and benefits of apprenticeships for both individuals and employers.
The Ofsted report also said that for the sector to raise the quality of its offering, leaders, managers and boards of directors must also improve.
However, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has challenged the report, saying that the ‘true picture of apprenticeships’ is not represented. CEO Stewart Segal has also criticised Ofsted for focusing too closely on data and technical measures, such as completion and timely completion.
How is CMS different from underperforming training providers?
At CMS, the focus is on the learner. We work closely with all of our students to understand their needs and goals and ensure that they choose the right route for them from the start – apprenticeship, traineeship or other options.
Our apprentices have a dedicated tutor who is in regular contact with them and will support them throughout their training. This includes sit-down meetings where they will discuss where the student would like to go in life and what their interests are, as well as checking up on the student’s progress during the apprenticeship.
CMS also helps apprentices develop the professional and personal skills they need to move forward to the next step – whether full-time permanent employment or a college or university course.
Working closely with employers, CMS ensures that apprentices receive the required training and that the employer is also benefiting from the experience.
The emphasis is on a mutually beneficial arrangement. Apprentices receive a good level of training and experience and are prepared with the personal and employability skills that an employer will value. See our case study on former apprentice Jack Collins, who said: “CMS Vocational will help you along the way – if you need any advice you can always phone them. An apprenticeship is a great way to start your career and progress from there.”
Meanwhile, companies who take on an apprentice through CMS will find that all the support they need is in place. See our blog on Five key benefits of apprenticeships for employers.
Leading from the front
CMS directors lead from the front with regular assessments of the quality of the apprenticeships and training provided by the company.
This excellent provision of online materials for apprentices has led to CMS Fitness Training being shortlisted as a finalist in the Best Use of Technology category of the Active Training Awards (see our report: CMS shortlisted for Active Training Awards 2015).
One director attended the pilot phase of the ETF leadership programme in January 2015, bringing back ideas on setting direction and making improvements.
So the short answer to the question, “Are all apprentice providers the same?” is no – whether you are an employer or a young person looking to better themselves, it’s worth talking to CMS to find out more.