Celebrating apprentice survey results

By Marcus Kaye on

It’s great to see, from the results of our highly encouraging apprentices’ survey that recieved more than 1,000 responses, that the main reasons behind my decision to do an apprenticeship remain well and truly valid. I was looking for top quality work-based training. Apprenticeships at their core are focused around harmony between practical on-the-job training and formal off-the-job education. An incredible 83% of apprentices who responded to the survey stated that they were satisfied with their on-the -job training and 84% were satisfied that their apprenticeship had qualified them to do their job. Added to that, 87% said they would recommend their apprenticeship to others who wish to train in that occupation.

Choosing to do an apprenticeship with IBM has been one of the best decisions of my career so far. If you are looking to kick start your career, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to consider an apprenticeship. It costs nothing to apply. I take great pride in serving on the panel of apprentices. Our role is to represent the voice of apprentices to government policy makers at the Institute and in central government. Our membership was refreshed earlier this year with 20 impressive new recruits from across a wide spectrum of apprenticeships.

One of our first jobs was to gather our own body of evidence for what is working with apprenticeships and what needs to be improved. We did this through our first nationwide survey of apprentices. The results make a strong case for the effectiveness of this unique style of learning, which enables the immediate practical use of the theoretical skills gained from formal education. Career progression and the development of applicable skills are often a concern for prospective apprentices. We found that 82% of respondents were satisfied that their apprenticeship had laid the foundation for a successful career. Those who choose an apprenticeship can often find themselves in the exceptional position of having three years of vital work experience over their future graduate peers while still obtaining valuable qualifications.

A lot has been done to promote and market apprenticeships, with several government campaigns helping to raise their profile with students and parents. I regularly travel to careers events and have seen huge improvements in students' awareness and receptiveness to apprenticeships.  There is still room for improvement, however, with how apprenticeships are perceived and valued by employers. This is a key area that the panel wants to see addressed.

The success of an apprenticeship relies on a well-orchestrated relationship and good understanding between the employer, training provider and the apprentice themselves. In some cases, apprentices have reported not receiving enough support from either of these parties. Only 66% of respondents said they were satisfied that their employers were taking steps to help them cope with pressures around learning and working for example. This is something else we want to see improved.

The panel also wants more focus on making sure employers allow apprentices to spend 20% of their working time on off-the-job training, which is what they are entitled to. We are planning to help with all of the above through a ‘best practice guide’ we are developing for employers, training providers and apprentices.

The full list of recommendations made by the panel in our report are as follows:

  1. Adequate preparation for End Point Assessment (EPA) should be defined and made compulsory in the delivery of apprenticeship standards 
  2.  More steps should be taken to ensure that apprentices receive their entitlement to 20% off-the-job training during their apprenticeship 
  3. Define best practice in delivering apprenticeship training and ensure that all training providers and employers deliver on- and off-the-job training to at least a minimum defined level, 
  4. Minimum standards of pastoral care of apprentices by employers and training providers should be defined and delivered, recognising especially the situation of younger apprentices and those with caring responsibilities 
  5.  More steps should be taken in the marketing of apprenticeships to promote the value of apprentices to employers, and apprentices’ own perceptions of the value of on-the-job learning 
  6.  Create a strengthened commitment statement that places more emphasis on quality of apprenticeship delivery, to hold training providers and employers to account and to assist in meeting the recommendations above.

Apprentices can contact the panel to pass on more of their positive and negative experiences through emailing apprenticepanel@education.gov.uk. 

Marcus Kaye is a data analyst apprentice for IBM and serves on the panel of apprentices, run by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute).