Government apprenticeship plans “short-sighted and flawed”

The UK government’s new Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England (SASE) has “failed to recognise the needs of the advanced skills sectors,” believes Ann Watson, managing director of EAL (EMTA Awards Ltd).

Under the new guidelines the level 2 NVQ in Performing Engineering Operations (PEO) is to be left out of the Advanced Apprenticeship in Engineering for apprentices in England, said the head of EAL – an awarding organisation for vocational qualifications in the engineering, manufacturing and building services engineering sectors.

“Apprentices in Wales and Scotland can still access this important foundation qualification which immediately creates a two tier system of apprenticeships across the UK. This is something I am sure Mr Hayes did not intend to put in place,” said Watson.“Although on the surface SASE seems a really positive move, the engineering and manufacturing industries will suffer due to a lack of understanding of the fundamental skills needed to operate safely and effectively in industry,” she added.

According to the EAL boss, the loss of PEO means that for many young people they will lose the chance to gain fundamental engineering skills in a safe, off-the-job environment. This, she warns, could have serious health and safety consequences, which may put people off a career in the sector.

Employers and colleges that EAL work with are up in arms about this, because the proposed frameworks do not reflectengineering employers’ needs, continued the MD.

She argued: It destroys the ability of Sector Skills Councils and awarding organisations to be able to cater for the specific requirements of an industry.

“|A one size fits all mentality is not appropriate for sectors which require bespoke, tailored training. In asking us to provide this, the Government is undoing what has made the engineering and manufacturing industries flagship examples of how apprenticeships should be designed and delivered.”

Despite the high billing apprenticeships have had with the Coalition Government since it came into power, it has failed to listen to sector needs. This is very concerning, given their high commitment to the delivery and quality of apprenticeships that they should be so prescriptive and devalue the apprenticeship in the engineering and manufacturing sector in one piece of legislation.”

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