Business Secretary Vince Cable recently announced details of how Government funding will support thousands of apprenticeships up to degree equivalent, enabling employers, colleges and universities to deliver the advanced skills most critical for growth in the UK.
£18.7m from the Higher Apprenticeship Fund will support the development of 19,000 new Higher Apprenticeships in sectors including construction, advanced engineering, insurance and financial services. Around 250 employers, including Leyland Trucks, Unilever, TNT, and Burberry will benefit from world class, nationally accredited technical training delivered in the workplace. The funding is part of a £25m fund for Higher Apprenticeships announced in July. A second round of bids to the fund will be invited early in the New Year, focusing closely on further areas needed to support economic growth.
“Investing in skills is central to our drive to boost business and productivity and make the UK more competitive,” said Business Secretary Vince Cable. “By radically expanding the number of degree level apprenticeships for young people, we will put practical learning on a level footing with academic study. This is an essential step that will help rebalance our economy and build a society in which opportunity and reward are fairly and productively distributed.”
New routes into higher levels of practical learning
Skills Minister John Hayes said: “By reviving apprenticeships the Government has started to build a world class skills system to rival our country´s great reputation for academic excellence. We´ve driven up quality across the board, more than doubled the number of new advanced apprenticeships, created new routes into higher levels of practical learning and given employers more control of how the training budget is spent. We´re now targeting resources even more closely on the skills, firms and sectors that will lead economic recovery.”
The winning bids were unveiled as Dr Cable visited the distribution company TNT in Bodmin, Cornwall. TNT is part of a successful bid to the fund and will help deliver Higher Apprenticeships in Express Logistics.
Nineteen partnerships comprising employers and training providers will receive a total of £17m, following a competitive bidding process. A further £1.7m has been invested in two new `Trailblazer´ projects in information technology and science, engineering and manufacturing, delivering 6,000 Higher Apprenticeships.
Recent reforms to the apprenticeships programme include initiatives to cut bureaucracy, provide financial incentives for small firms to hire apprentices, and reduce the time it takes an employer to employ an apprentice. Provisional data indicates record growth in apprenticeships numbers, with some 440,000 people starting an apprenticeship in 2010/11.