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Potential and capacity of apprenticeships for supporting the Welsh economy is not being fully realised– says Assembly committee

25 October 2012

Apprenticeship schemes in Wales can be complex and are not being exploited to their full potential according to a new report from the National Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee.

The Committee concluded that apprenticeships are essential for the recruitment, training, development and retention of a skilled and productive workforce in Wales, particularly in the current economic climate.

Yet from video evidence presented to the Committee, which captured the views of young people and training providers, the Committee also found that there can be significant stigma, myth and gender stereotyping surrounding apprenticeships: potential employers often view them as a cost rather than an asset, and potential apprentices may see them as cheap, disposable labour in mostly ‘oily rag’ professions.

A number of successful apprenticeship programmes were considered by the Committee during the course of its inquiry, all with a high demand for places and rewarding experiences for successful applicants. The committee believes the organisers of such schemes should be encouraged to inspire others.

The committee was also told that, particularly among small to medium-sized businesses, setting up and taking on apprentices could prove complicated and confusing, and that companies were often deterred by lack of time and resources.

“Apprenticeships are an extremely potent tool available to the Welsh Government in supporting and stimulating the Welsh economy,” said Nick Ramsay AM, Chair of the Enterprise and Business Committee.

“We believe that there is a growing appetite for apprenticeship schemes and we welcome the creation of an apprenticeship unit within the Welsh Government.

“Yet we also believe there is a need to simplify what can be a complicated system and to promote the benefits of apprenticeships to employers and potential employees.

“More fundamentally, there needs to be a culture change so that apprenticeships are held in higher esteem and seen as an investment rather than a cost.”

In its report the Committee makes 20 recommendations to the Welsh Government, including:

  • Encouraging employers with well-established apprenticeship programmes to mentor and link up with small and medium-sized employers to advise them on apprenticeship schemes and share training provision;

  • Tackling problems of esteem with apprenticeships, such as through a reconsideration of the apprenticeship product, clarification of people’s understanding of the term ‘apprenticeship’, more innovative ways of promoting and communicating an apprenticeship ‘brand’ to young people;

  • And, ensuring young people and their parents receive timely and high quality advice about apprenticeships so that they can make informed choices about their educational and career pathways.

 
 

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