03 April 2012
In response to the BBC 1 Panorama documentary, Martin Doel, CEO of the Association of Colleges, said: “The vast majority of apprenticeship provision is of high quality and where we have seen poor, or questionable, provision it is at the fringes. The apprenticeship model is fundamentally a good one, as we have seen in the UK and other countries, and AoC agrees with John Hayes MP, Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, that the focus must continue to be on quality. Apprenticeships delivered by our member Colleges are done so with integrity, are of a high standard and are verified by Ofsted. Colleges are not-for-profit organisations which serve their communities for the long-term; it is not in their interests to provide poor quality education.
“When there is significant investment and growth in a nationwide training scheme there will inevitably be a few sophisticated operators who try to play the system. If there are legitimate questions raised about the quality of any employer or training provider, then they need to be thoroughly investigated by the relevant Government agencies. It is imperative that the strong reputation of apprenticeships is maintained; to do that any element of poor quality, however marginal, needs to be eradicated.
“As regards subcontracting, the majority of these relationships will lead to quality provision and work well for students, Colleges, communities and the subcontractors. Colleges accept their responsibility as contractors and know that the quality of the work that the subcontractor delivers must be as good as if they were delivering it themselves. In the longer term, Colleges work with subcontractors in order to engage niche expertise; a subcontractor may well have a history of working with a particular set of employers and an expert set of specialist staff. In the shorter term, Colleges have engaged with subcontractors in order to meet Government deadlines for moving provision away from Train to Gain and into apprenticeships – the speed with which that needed to happen required outside help.”