Apprenticeships: Keeping up with the Schmidts | The Economist

This article from the Economist is a strongly recommended read. Check it out!

via Apprenticeships: Keeping up with the Schmidts | The Economist.

For me, the article, once again highlights the weakness of David Cameron’s government‘s policy decisions. This highlights the fundamental absence of proper strategic evaluation, with policies being hotchpotch and knee-jerk reactions.  I would question the wisdom of trying to copy German best practice which is based on fundamentally different contextual values. For example, there is a Constitutional Court in Germany which protects consumers against big government and big business. The Economist article describes how a supermarket is taking the money and not, in my view, giving enough in return to the apprentices.

In the last two years, I have spent two extended periods in Asia. and am amazed that the UK Government is developing an appenticeship policy without extensive study of Asian practice.

Let me turn this to an open question:

In your opinion, is the UK Government’s policy for appenticeships likely to be effective in addressing the huge challenges of UK unemployment?

Any thoughts?

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3 responses

  1. Pingback: Opinion: Apprenticeships: Keeping up with the Schmidts | The Economist – John Gelmini « Dr Alf's Blog

  2. Dr Alf poses an excellent question about UK apprenticeships and jobs growth in relation to the Economist article.

    The question of apprenticeships is secondary to the real problem which is the lack of real export led growth in the UK economy versus a manufactured housing boom which will run out of steam once the Financial Conduct Authority’s new rules choke off lending

    Even after all the braying and talk of the “plan working, our biggest export market is still the Irish Republic and Middle Eastern Emirs, who are customers of BAE Defence Systems.

    It is also secondary to the three “Elephants in the room” which are:

    1. Unemployability of UK school leavers,
    2. Lack of UK worker and boss productivity and
    3. Lack of comprehension on the part of our ruling classes of just how far behind our Far Eastern and MINT competitors we still are.

    The Coalition’s claim to have created a million new jobs is bogus because most of these are “self employment”, namely people registering companies at Companies House Cardiff but not necessarily trading or making any money.
    Then there are those who have had their employment switched from local authorities (public sector),to outsourcers (private sector), plus the million plus people who have been removed from the dole by sanctions or recategorization into employed status by ATOS ORIGIN, whose contract is not going to be renewed.
    Mark Carney the Governor of The Bank of England put it more delicately to a House of Commons select committee, when he said that “In Canada, I was more comfortable with the numbers”
    This was when he was asked about Government claims about GDP numbers and the veracity of the statistics put forth by the ONS.

    Without consistent 3% plus real economic growth, unemployment will not fall and without a better educated workforce and a lot more productivity. No apprenticeships, on the German or any other model are sustainable or can be created in the first place.

    The benchmark for the UK has to be the most dynamic countries in the world, using a composite benchmarking grid not the pretence that the UK can adopt the German apprenticeship scheme without the population and the business community taking on the need for a Mittelstand, trade schools for the less academically inclined and a number of other German characteristics which people in the UK will never have in a month of Sundays.we ha

    First though, there has to be real numbers and data to show us where we really are, and then there has to be a plan to address the situation and an acknowledgement on the part of everyone in the UK, that the world does not owe us a living, and that we are engaged in the economic equivalent of war.
    Until that day, which I see no evidence of the UK ever reaching in my lifetime, the Government, big business and the populace are burying their heads in the sand, living in the past and living on borrowed time.

  3. I’m not sure what is so wrong with using the apprenticeship scheme to upskill low-level workers, as long as it leads to increased productivity and higher wages after apprenticeships are complete, and the reports I have read from Warwick University and statistical releases from the BIS indicate that they do. And if Level 2 apprenticeships don’t provide a pathway for low level workers into the workforce, what will? I agree that stopping at Level 2 qualifications is a dead-end, but using a Level 2 apprenticeship as a stepping stone to a higher level apprenticeship or level 3 training while learning the soft skills needed to gain good jobs seems like a viable strategy. Other pathways don’t seem to have had a good track record of effectiveness. Even Germany has this same problem with the group they dub the “transition sector”, who don’t have strong enough skills to be productive on a traditional apprenticeship. We can’t just focus on higher level apprenticeship and hope lower level workers disappear.

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