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Apprenticeship scheme still has work to do to create the right impression

Published 18 July 2016

Many recent school leavers will take their first tentative steps into the world of work through the apprenticeship scheme (1), but it’s an option that appears to be frowned upon by numerous parents (2,3).

Research shows that just one in five parents of an 18 year old consider the government-backed training scheme to be the best option (3).

The study also revealed that apprenticeships were viewed negatively by young people. While 27 per cent of those over the age of 55 said an apprenticeship was the best option, only seven per cent of those aged 18 – 24 agreed (2,3).

The study was carried out by YouGov on behalf of Reed in Partnership and qualifications body NCFE (2).

The government set a number of standards that need to be met for recruiting an apprentice (4). The apprenticeship should be a minimum of 12 months long, include 280 hours of guided learning and 30 working hours a week (5).

Critics of the training scheme claim that it is a simple way to underpay workers for generally basic work (6). Those who support it say apprenticeships can benefit employers in a number of ways(7,8), some of which include:

  • Allowing them to fill skills gaps, as apprentices learn sector specific skills from the start of their employment and develop specialist knowledge.
  • Apprenticeships provide skilled workers needed for the future.
  • Up to 100 per cent funding could be available to support apprenticeship programmes in a business.
  • Apprenticeships are a good way of attracting enthusiastic talent with fresh ideas
  • Apprenticeships can be tailored to specific job roles, making them flexible to the needs of a business

A new apprenticeship levy will be introduced in April 2017 to make sure that big business help to meet the cost of training workers (9).

Only businesses with a wage bill of more than £3m will face the 0.5 per cent levy, which will raise an estimated £3bn a year and fund three million apprenticeships (9).

It is reported that business groups have described the levy as a new ‘payroll tax’, which will also have an impact on small and medium sized businesses.


  1. 2288 C newsdesk 020 7783 8300 G enquiries 0370 000. Thousands more school leavers choosing apprenticeships - Press releases - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2016 Jul 18]. Available from:
  2. Apprenticeships have an image problem | Reed in Partnership [Internet]. [cited 2016 Jul 18]. Available from:
  3. Two thirds of parents don’t understand apprenticeships | AAT [Internet]. [cited 2016 Jul 18]. Available from:
  4. Apprenticeship standards - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2016 Jul 18]. Available from:
  5. Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England (SASE) - Publications - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2016 Jul 18]. Available from:
  6. From the FE editor: Ofsted’s criticisms of apprenticeships will stick unless the government acts [Internet]. TES. 2015 [cited 2016 Jul 18]. Available from:
  7. Benefits to having an Apprentice [Internet]. Impact Apprenticeships. [cited 2016 Jul 18]. Available from:
  8. Top 10 benefits of Apprenticeships | learndirect [Internet]. [cited 2016 Jul 18]. Available from:
  9. Apprenticeship levy: how it will work - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2016 Jul 18]. Available from:

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