The New Look Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships have been around for a very long time indeed. The roots can be followed back in time to the Middle Ages, where children of upper class families were sent for training into one of the medieval craft guilds.
The apprentice and master were contracted together by indenture for a period of time during which the master was responsible for the apprentice’s employ and moral welfare, which was guide-lined by the Statute of Artificers in 1563, which suggested a minimum level of accomplishment and set the duration for apprenticeship at seven years.
The system worked satisfactorily until the socio-economic changes of the industrial revolution made many trades redundant.
The professions continued to attract apprenticeships, and new industries produced new opportunities in engineering, plumbing, or electronics, and by the mid twentieth century, up to a third of all boys leaving school went on to apprenticeships.
From the mid-‘70’s to the mid-‘90’s apprenticeships fell out of favour, gaining a low-status reputation, but reform in 1993 under the “Modern Apprenticeship” scheme, revalued it, making apprentices employees, and thus enjoying employee’s rights, such as being paid wages.
The other big difference became that the apprenticeship was to be gauged not on the duration of service, but that the apprentice would work toward a qualification, equivalent to GCSE’s or A levels and by the early 2000’s national frameworks were instituted to standardise the minimum requirements of each apprenticeship.
The Government’s enthusiasm for the apprenticeship scheme is evident in its agenda for its “2020 Vision” for training.
Shortly to come into effect is the new apprenticeship levy, a key pillar in helping to fund a record three million apprenticeship places, up from a current figure of under one million.
This is a tax for all firms with an annual payroll of £3million or more, of 0.5 per cent of that figure which goes into a central pool, to assist employers that take on apprentices.
The Government is surrounding its new emphasis with its “Get In, Go Far” (GIGF) publicity drive, to show that there can be alternate routes to success other than university.
The drive includes a campaign directed at pupils and teachers, parents and employers, through social media, the TV and more, in an attempt to alter the mind-set that working is a lowly alternative to studying.
The fundamental message is that apprenticeships can take you onward and upward, in the real world of learning and earning as you go.