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UK Vocational Education and Apprenticeship: the good, the bad, and the ugly? Alison Fuller and Lorna Unwin TUC Seminar November 22nd 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "UK Vocational Education and Apprenticeship: the good, the bad, and the ugly? Alison Fuller and Lorna Unwin TUC Seminar November 22nd 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 UK Vocational Education and Apprenticeship: the good, the bad, and the ugly? Alison Fuller and Lorna Unwin TUC Seminar November 22nd 2010

2 Apprenticeship within a Complex VET Landscape Colleges, private training providers, workplace-based training, combination of sites and pedagogies Qualifications - competence-based, knowledge-based, combination – high status to low status Young and mature – year olds Multi-purpose – skill formation, ‘participation’ and qualification targets social inclusion, sector specific, occupation-specific Multi-actors – Government, sectors, individual employers, Group Training Associations, Apprenticeship Training Agencies, professional bodies, inspectorates, awarding bodies

3 Scale of Apprenticeship in England 5.2% of year olds in apprenticeships 1.5% in Advanced Apprenticeship (Level 3) 3.7% in Apprenticeships (Level 2). 25% in full-time study leading to vocational qualifications at Levels 1, 2 and 3 Majority over age of 19 – ‘conversions’ 12 sectors dominate – though approx. 150 apprenticeship frameworks available 48% of starts female - but gender segregation by sector persists

4 Expansive-Restrictive Continuum Expansive - ‘dual’ characteristics – identity of worker and learner, on and off-the-job, skill formation and qualifications with currency, platform for progression Restrictive – accreditation of existing expertise/fast transition to productive worker, qualifications with limited currency Key issue – relative roles of employers and providers

5 Top 10 Sectors –starts 2008/09 Customer Service Business Administration Children’s Care Construction Hospitality Hairdressing Engineering Health and Social Care Retail Management

6 What works well? Companies and public sector organisations with commitment to workforce development – apprenticeship aligned to business goals Entry to apprenticeship flexible – caters for individuals at varying points in a transition/work/career trajectory (Some) Qualifications recognised for different purposes – labour market, FE and HE Workplace learning accredited and valued

7 Example: New forms of Apprenticeship in Creative and Cultural Sector - Manchester Intermediary agency (VisionMedia) - negotiate framework & partner responsibilities, secure funding, recruit apprentices, monitor partner responsibilities & apprentices’ development VET providers – design bespoke inter-disciplinary content, integrate content & work placements Employers – negotiate work placement, identify learning processes & mentor support, integrate placements & qualification outcomes VET Outcome – Vocational Practice & Social Capital Employment outcome – positioned for freelance work

8 Weaknesses Variable quality – lack of consistency Competence-based qualifications – may not improve basic skills or provide platform for progression Provider-led - failure to secure employer commitment Gender segregation – females in low-pay, low status occupations/sectors

9 New Developments New Challenges “Apprenticeships are at the heart of the system” (p. 7 BIS Nov 2010a) Increase numbers - goal to increase 19+ starts to 200,000 per year by 2014/15 (140,600 in 2008/09) Focus on expansion of L3 “In most sectors, an individual will not be considered to have finished their Apprenticeship journey until they have reached this level” (ibid p.17) 2013/14 - Public funding for 24+ Apprenticeships stops, individuals to take out loans (p. 8 BIS Nov 2010b)

10 New Developments New Challenges Expansion of Apprenticeships needed to meet demand created by raising of the participation age to 17 in 2013 and 18 in 2015 Goal to improve progression from L3 to L4 Apprenticeships or HE but, Mismatch between L3 qualification currency and requirements of a) HE and b) professional bodies Glass ceilings and ladders with missing rungs Apprenticeship as final stop or way station – challenge for UK and German systems?

11 References DBIS (2010a) Skills for sustainable growth: strategy document, full report, Department for Business Innovation and Skills. DBIS (2010b) Further Education – New Horizon Investing in Skills for Sustainable Growth: strategy document, full report, Department for Business Innovation and Skills. Fuller, A. and Unwin, L. (2010) Fuller, A. and UNWIN, L. (2010) ‘Change and continuity in apprenticeship: the resilience of a model of learning’, Journal of Education and Work, 25(5): Fuller, A. and Unwin, L. (2008) Towards Expansive Apprenticeships, A commentary, ESRC/TLRP, London: Institute of Education. Fuller, A. and Unwin, L. (2003) Learning as Apprentices in the Contemporary UK Workplace: Creating and Managing Expansive Participation, Journal of Education and Work, 16 (4): More info:


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