Government should modernise apprentice system

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The Independent Online

The Institute of Directors is urging the Government to improve the modern system of apprenticeships for smaller firms. The IOD says that closer co-operation is vital if Britain is to narrow the gap with European countries such as Germany and France in vocational training.

The Institute of Directors is urging the Government to improve the modern system of apprenticeships for smaller firms. The IOD says that closer co-operation is vital if Britain is to narrow the gap with European countries such as Germany and France in vocational training.

The IOD is proposing a range of changes to the current system, which it says is "patchy" with wild variations in grants across the country. It says the Government should pay at least half of the cost of training individuals who take modern apprenticeships, and calls for greater consistency of grants across the country

Other proposals include a specified period of off-the-job training, so apprentices can be taught technical theory. The IOD also calls for the inclusion of communications skills and IT practices in all courses.

Richard Wilson, the IOD's business policy executive, said: "Historically the Achilles heel of the British education system has been a failure to educate a sufficient number of people with vocational qualifications in comparison to our overseas competitors. Today, only 14 per cent of British employees hold intermediate level vocational qualifications, compared to 46 per cent in Germany."

Mr Wilson added that the British apprentice system "has contributed to skill shortages in the UK economy and has probably impaired productivity."

The IOD says that small firms do recognise the importance of training, but often lack the resources to invest in the skills and cope with off-the-job training.

Proper government support could finally put paid to the notion that vocational education is "the Cinderella of the British education system", the IOD concluded.

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