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Ofsted: Apprentices more likely to succeed if they have completed meaningful work experience
A report on apprenticeships for young people launched by Ofsted today has found that those who had completed work experience, course tasters or vocational study were more likely to make good progress in their apprenticeship than those starting straight from school without it.
The report, 'Apprenticeships for young people', also found that good relationships between employers and trainers were crucially important in capturing evidence of apprentices' skills.
The national director for learning and skills, Matthew Coffey, said: "There has been much concern lately about the quality of apprenticeships.
"When looking at the national picture we can see that around 70% of apprenticeships are good or outstanding but more needs to be done to improve provision further.
"The Apprenticeships for young people best practice report will provide a vast pool of knowledge and examples on how to deliver apprenticeships successfully and will act as a useful guide for trainers, assessors and educational leaders wishing to improve.
"When preparing post-16s for apprenticeships schools need to provide meaningful work experience. While the majority of learners are completing their apprenticeships around a quarter are dropping out.
"It is clear that more work experience, vocational study and course tasters are needed to ensure learners are on the right apprenticeship for them and that they understand the demands of work."
Apprenticeships play a key role in the government's strategy to develop the skills of the workforce. Ofsted says the government's ambition that all young people will participate in learning up to the age of 18 will rely critically on the sector's expertise in designing and delivering high quality programmes, including pre-apprenticeships and intermediate and advanced apprenticeships.
The Ofsted report says it's important for employers and teachers to work together and understand how the apprenticeship is delivered so learners can show evidence and be readily assessed on both their practical and theoretical skills.
Work experience in the area that interested the young person was seen as a positive force in equipping young people with an appropriate work ethic and basic employment skills. Despite the benefits of work experience, the employers in the survey said that the number of students they could accommodate on placements was restricted. This was because too many local schools tended to ask for placements during the same short period at the end of the academic year.
Providers and employers felt that the most important attributes of a potential apprentice were the right attitude and commitment to employment.
The report suggests that employers and trainers who worked together and had a good understanding of how the apprenticeship was delivered were better placed to help learners capture evidence of the skills they learnt during their apprenticeship. The report says that this way they had a wide base of evidence to link their workplace training with the training they had done with their provider, marrying both their practical and theoretical skills.
The report found that the most effective teaching was well planned, engaged learners and enabled them to put quickly into practice what they learnt in theory lessons. The strong vocational backgrounds of the staff together with small group sizes ensured good and sometimes outstanding skills development.
Providers surveyed in the report said that good training in key and functional skills such as English and maths was seen as more relevant by young people when it was put into context and used in relation to the skills associated with the young person's apprenticeship.
Linking key or functional skills training to the area of learning being studied meant that young apprentices did not view it as more of the same 'English and maths' they studied at school and could see the real benefits of improving these skills. Those who had not done well at school said that they could see the point of mathematics in particular when they would be using it as part of their jobs.
Joy Mercer, director of policy at the Association of Colleges, said: "We welcome the publication of the report which helps to balance some of the criticism expressed in recent weeks about the quality of apprenticeships offered by some private training providers.
"The colleges and providers surveyed by Ofsted are rightly praised for their understanding of both employer and student needs. They are proven to recognise the importance of continuous support, pastoral care and the necessity of good private providers when taking on young apprentices."
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