ruth blog
By Ruth Exelby, Vice Principal on 9 March 2018

Having recently moved house I have purged a lot of waste but one thing I could not part with was my dissertation, ‘The transfer from one year to two-year Youth Training Schemes and the impact on UK training strategy’.

Such a snappy title and what a read!

So, over 30 years ago I started a passion for work-based learning and as I read the document I started to think about the journey I have been on and the development of apprenticeships during that time.

One of the most interesting things has been the number of changes that have taken place. Fundamentally the provision has remained consistent – students earn while they learn – but, blimey, have there been some changes too. 

Here is a list of some of the organisations involved in apprenticeships over the years… deep breath!

·         The Manpower Services Commission

·         Council for Education and Technology

·         Business Links

·         Standards Board for England

·         Training and Development Agency for Schools

·         National Employers Service

·         Young People’s Learning Agency

·         Regional Development Agencies

·         QCDA

·         Ofqual

·         Qualifications Curriculum Authority

·         Department for Business Innovation and Skills

·         Department for Education and Skills

·         Department for Education

·         Training and Enterprise Councils

·         Learning and Skills Councils

·         Skills Funding Agency

·         Education and Skills Funding Agency

I could continue…

This is before mentioning the training bodies supporting the sector – Industry Training Boards, Industry Training Organisations, National Training Organisations, Sector Skills Councils – trust me the list goes on.

When I try and explain to people what my job is I often get very confused faces and quite frankly,

it is no wonder that employers, parents and anyone with a life, gets confused about apprenticeships.

Yet despite all of the above that passion for apprenticeships and work-based learning has not left me.

Why? Because everyone is entitled to receive a quality training programme irrespective of whether it is academically or vocationally biased. Just because a young person has decided that they feel they are more suited to working and learning skills on the job why should they be treated of deemed to be any less capable than someone who decides to go to university?

Yet the stigma is still there. Schools too often encourage students to stay on in full-time education even if it doesn’t best the student.  This can also be encouraged by the funding regime that gives schools funding if students stay on in their educational establishment, regardless of whether it suits them best or not.

This is National Apprenticeship Week when the spotlight is turned on the great opportunities that are available for students to open up their choices on what the future could hold for them. Let us help them to see ALL that those choices might offer and help share my passion for all things work based learning.


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