Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Apprenticeships in England: an overview of current issues

an article by Dionne Lee (Teesside University, Middlesbrough) published in Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning Volumne 2 Issue 3 (2012)


Apprenticeships in England are currently experiencing a revival. The purpose of this paper is to provide a general overview of apprenticeships in England, examine current government policy, and explore current issues around the further development of apprenticeships.
Desk research, including reviewing other research articles and labour market intelligence has been carried out to provide a general overview of the issues.
Apprenticeships have traditionally been regarded as the vocational route to stable employment. Although they have sometimes suffered from a poor reputation they are now becoming an increasingly popular option for both younger and older people. The knowledge economy is driving up the demand for higher level skills and concurrent with this is the notion that, in today’s competitive labour market, experience is vital. Not only has this impacted on the popularity of apprenticeships but also upon more traditional “academic” routes such as higher education (HE). In addition it has raised questions about higher level skills and vocational education. The introduction of Higher Apprenticeships and work experience/real world interactions built into HE courses are establishing synergies between the two elements of the skills/education system; however, developing these synergies further is a critical issue for future consideration.
There is a proliferation of publications tracking the nature and value of apprenticeships. This paper traces apprenticeships and their evolution and examines how practices adopted can be applied to newer vocational options being integrated into HE. The paper considers apprenticeships and other vocational options, building on the author’s own discussions with employers and recent graduates.

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