Don't let education be squeezed out of apprenticeships

Published: 04 October 2019 Ezine

A motion recognising the value of apprenticeships as a "distinctive and highly valuable part of the vocational education sector" was seconded by the Society at the 2019 TUC Congress.

Moved by the University and College Union, Richard Evans, the Society's CEO, spoke to the motion saying, "A fair deal for apprentices includes the fundamental right to education for all. Education is a vital component of any apprenticeship programme.

"What is it about the word 'vital' that immediately reads 'optional' in the hands of unscrupulous employers and providers of funds? Education is a right. It is not an option."

Richard acknowledged that the "new health professional apprenticeships have identified the educational component very clearly" but he criticised the lack of financial support.

"The funding available for higher education institutions is frequently inadequate, falling way below the actual cost," he told delegates.

"There is a disincentive for universities to provide apprenticeship education in higher cost programmes such as those in radiography and sonography. These funds are allocated by the Institute for Apprentices, the very body that we should expect to promote and value high quality apprenticeships.

"Promoting apprenticeships without providing for the educational component is what this composite is all about. It is bizarre and shameful that the Institute is setting some programmes up to fail.

"The shame is directly affecting access to a valuable new source of recruits to our desperately hard pressed workforce. And it is restricting opportunities for people for whom apprenticeship would represent a chance to follow an otherwise inaccessible career in the NHS."