Good quality apprenticeships

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Position statement
24 November 2016
Apprenticeships should be a high quality path to a successful career.  ATL recommends that when advising young people or developing programmes, teachers and lecturers are aware that good quality apprenticeships:

Pay a fair rate

The current minimum wage rate for an apprentice is £3.30 per hour.  This applies to apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year. However, some apprenticeships are paid substantially more than the minimum, and include additional benefits, for example travel cards.  Apprenticeship should be financially viable for apprentices, taking into consideration costs such as travel and subsistence, and appropriate clothes for work.

Are jobs with a productive purpose and progression

Apprentices should have parity of terms and conditions with all other employees. Good quality apprenticeships will have progression opportunities to genuine, secure and long-term employment at the end of the training.

Include high quality learning and qualified vocational educators in the areas of teaching, training and assessing

An apprentice should have a dual status as a learner, as well as an employee, and feel valued within and by the education system. Apprentices must be given sufficient paid time off the job to study in college or in a dedicated workplace training centre. Training must be relevant to the job and recognisable in the sector.  Good quality apprenticeship programmes should include a technical knowledge qualification (such as a BTEC) and a competencies qualification (such as an NVQ), which will ensure progression and mobility between employers, occupations and sectors on completion.  In the best possible apprenticeships, general education (comprising citizenship topics) supports personal and professional development, as well as occupational readiness.

Ensure clear development of the apprentice’s skills

On the job training should be fundamental to the apprenticeship.  There should be a clear system for supervision, support and mentoring, by appropriately trained work colleagues.  Apprenticeships should develop skills relevant to, and an expertise in the occupational field, rather than focusing on meeting employers’ immediate skills needs.   Professional registration should be achieved as part of the apprenticeship programme where it exists.

Include a training plan

A training plan should set out the apprenticeship standards, each element of the programme and the rights and responsibilities of the apprentice, employer and training provider. The training plan should be agreed and signed off by each stakeholder (including the apprentice’s parent or carer if under the age of 18 years).

Involve trade unions at all stages

Trade unions should have a constructive role in the development and delivery of the apprenticeship programme.  Unions will negotiate around aspects of the apprenticeship, support apprentices and work with the employer to ensure the quality and success of the programmes. The union rep should play an integral role in supporting, developing and advocating for apprentices. Union representatives, especially union learning reps, are ideally placed to act as mentors to apprentices.

Are accessible to, and achievable by all

A good apprenticeship programme will include strategies to ensure that apprenticeships are accessible to the widest possible demographic and diverse spread of people. Particular attention will be given to enabling people from disadvantaged groups to take up any opportunities offered and support given to complete them successfully, thereby achieving the full benefit of apprenticeship.

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