I am not the type of person who harkens back to the old days and presumes that everything in the past was right and everything we do nowadays is wrong. I’ll leave that to the old timers but what I can say is true is, that in the olden days there were more pathways to enter a career than there are today. In today’s world we are dealing with the results of a 40 year campaign that has pushed a degree, any degree as the be all and end all of finding success in the world. If you take a look at society, you will see that we have more university graduates working retail than ever before but is it making the world a better place? This is not to discount the value of a university education but to instead say that as valuable as a college degree is, young people also need practical real world experience and for some careers, all that a person really needs is a quality apprenticeship.
What we have seen over the last few decades is a decline in the number of apprenticeship programs. In the past, these programs were plentiful but now not so many exist. It is for this reason that so many skilled jobs go unmanned because we have failed our young people by not training them in the practical skills that they need in order to do the job and earn a decent living. What we will have to do to keep our economy going forward is to offer more real world based training programs or even paid training in actual businesses. This might be a bit too futurist and forward thinking but what if the evolution of university is the birth of wishful employees paying to get on the job training vs paying for a degree? It is still true that in some fields experience matter much more than a university degree and this seems to be especially true for technical or ‘hands on’ jobs where what you can produce in objective terms matters more than simply getting a degree. One big worry that is on the minds of economists, is how we are using technology to create and destroy jobs but worryingly, we appear to destroy more jobs than we create. In the future, real world apprenticeships are going to be even more important because there will be fewer people to fill the skilled jobs that are on offer.
As you can, there is a high value to apprenticeships and our world needs to focus on them more and more. The training of employees on the job is an old age tradition that should never die but that should instead grow into something new and even more meaningful. This is not just a wish but something that has to happen as the economy changes, as old jobs are wiped out, as a tech jobs increase, as the nation relies more on services than labour and where skilled labour jobs require advanced skills.
A levy on large businesses to help fund apprenticeship growth has been announced by Chancellor George Osborne.
Mr Osborne’s budget announcement comes after Professor Lady Alison Wolf called for such a levy, but on all employers, in a report released by the Social Market Foundation last week.
Employer and FE sector bodies are still digesting the announcement, along with others relating to FE in the Budget (listed below), but Professor Wolf’s universal levy proposal was rejected by the Confederation of British Industry, while the Association of Employment and Learning Providers was also sceptical.
Nevertheless, papers released by the Treasury following Mr Osborne’s speech to Parliament this afternoon reveal that revenue from the levy will help fund all post-16 apprenticeships in England.
According to the documents, the levy will “provide funding that each employer can use to meet their individual needs”.
The Treasury goes on to say: “The funding will be directly controlled by employers via the digital apprenticeships voucher, and firms that are committed to training will be able to get back more than they put in.
“There will be formal engagement with business on the implementation of the levy, which will also consider the interaction with existing sector levy boards, and further details will be set out at the spending review.”
Mr Osborne also used his budget speech to announce a new ‘living wage’, to replace the minimum wage for those aged 25 and over, starting at £7.20 next April and rising to £9 by 2020. This is despite the fact the rate currently recommended by the Living Wage Foundation is £7.85 outside London and £9.15 in the capital.
It is not yet known how this will affect the apprentice minimum wage, which is due to rise to £3.30 an hour from October.
The Chancellor also outlined in more detail his plans for a ‘youth obligation’, which will see benefits taken away from 18 to 21-year-olds who don’t ‘earn or learn’.