The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (BISC) yesterday published a report following an 11-month review into apprenticeships, which concluded that schemes need to be better monitored, with many areas needing 'urgent reform'.
But Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, believes more trust should be given to the hospitality sector, claiming it is one of very few industries in the UK which are actively creating jobs, apprenticeships, work placements and career opportunities.
“In hospitality, you can start at the bottom and excel right up to the very top,” said Ibrahim. “Many organisations in our industry have developed some highly accredited, award-winning apprenticeships.
“We are continuing to persuade government departments to trust businesses to do the job of developing people and promote the message to business that apprenticeships are a first-class way to start a career.
“I hope that the proposed reforms improve access to apprenticeships rather than stand in the way of businesses getting on with the job of creating more apprenticeship positions."
The BISC report said that the Government is currently paying out too much money on apprenticeship schemes, and that it needs to outline a formal definition of an apprenticeship, to state clearly that they are aimed at developing skills.
It also calls for apprenticeships to be seen as equal to study at university and recommends that the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) should have a statutory responsibility to raise awareness of apprenticeships for students within schools.
Words of Wisdom
Brian Wisdom, chief executive of sector skills council People 1st, agrees that more should be done to raise awareness of apprenticeships and to ultimately promote hospitality.
“As a sector we need to show that we can deliver quality apprenticeship experiences and we need to promote apprenticeships as a great career development route,” said Wisdom. “To ensure this, we would advise employers to talk to us and seek advice when they are employing apprentices.”
However, Wisdom also pointed out that a drive to grow the amount of apprentices in the UK runs the risk of lowering the quality of the workforce.
“We support the need for high quality apprenticeships, but the push to grow their numbers has, in some cases, lead to practices that don’t necessarily result in the skilled workforce the industry requires.
“People 1st has developed a coherent strategy to address this issue and to ensure apprenticeships meet the industry’s needs. The recent development of the Higher Apprenticeship in Hospitality Management is a clear example of this and of the strong path available into leadership positions within hospitality.”
Strategy and purpose
Commenting on the publication of the report, the chairman of the BISC, Adrian Bailey, said: "The apprenticeship programme can play a key role in resolving some of this country's most pressing issues. Without clarity, there is only confusion. Confusion as to what the government is trying to achieve, what apprentices should be focusing on and what employers should be offering.
"An apprenticeship programme without a clear strategy and purpose will not achieve its goals. But it will be open to abuse.
"This needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency."
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock welcomed the Committee's report, adding: "Apprenticeships are vital for equipping people with the skills they need to prosper, and the nation with the workforce we need to compete in the global race. Over a million people have started an apprenticeship since 2010, right across the economy.
"So I welcome this timely and thorough investigation into apprenticeships, and will consider carefully its suggestions to help make the programme even more successful."