This is a great thing and yet another step in the long journey to increase the status of the apprenticeship, so that the skilled professionals who are its products are once again held in high esteem by the public.I have been calling for exactly this for years because, as the product of a proper, top quality apprenticeship, I know the value of the real thing, and I feel the pain when I see supermarkets and other companies disrespecting the term to win training grants to employ existing staff to stack shelves. Announcing the new protected status of apprenticeships, which as part of the government’s Enterprise Bill will now be required by law to be of a minimum length and quality, skills minister Nick Boles said: “Businesses know their value, so it’s high time they were recognised both by the public and in law as being equal to degrees.” Boles is a dedicated fellow, and showed this last year when he visited Pimlico Plumbers to meet one of our apprentices on site to see her in action. Definitely a man who is prepared to get his hands dirty, he really did, throwing on a Pimlico uniform to help unblock a sink. This is not the end of the line; the battle for apprenticeships to have equal status to university degrees is not over. And as far as I’m concerned it won’t be until government thinks they are important enough to set up a fully-funded nationally organised apprenticeship scheme. And by that I mean pay employers to train young people as apprentices. It’s a complete no-brainer, pay young people to learn a trade rather than to sit at home and watch TV while drawing Job Seekers’ Allowance or something similar. I do, however, believe that this is a serious breakthrough, as the government has pledged three million apprenticeships during this parliament, and now, thanks to this new status, that means a whole lot more.
Read more from Charlie Mullins:
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