Employers are relabelling low-quality, low skilled and and often low-wage roles as ‘apprenticeships’, according to a new report.
As part of the government’s wider package of reforms to apprenticeships, groups of employers have come together to write the new ‘apprenticeship standards’.
Some employers have used this opportunity to generate high-quality standards. However, other employers appear to be simply rebadging low-quality, low-skill and often low-wage roles as ‘apprenticeships’ instead.
The opening sentence of the ‘Retailer’ apprenticeship standard notes that “the main purpose of a retailer is to assist customers when they purchase products and services” .
The standard claims that those who complete it can work in a variety of shops and other retail establishments including supermarkets, small boutiques, funeral services, garden centres, and delicatessens.
The report, The great training robbery, by Reform states that “the risk with such ill-defined and low-skill roles is that the experience for the apprentices does not match the government rhetoric around the value of apprenticeships. For example, news reports of ‘Business Administrator’ apprentices being asked to do little more than filing, photocopying and answer the phones while being paid below the normal minimum wage because they are classed as an ‘apprentice’ are all too common.”
According to the study 40% of government-approved apprenticeship standards do not meet a traditional definition of them.
Tom Richmond, senior research fellow at Reform, said “Service sector apprenticeships could be of high quality, but many of these being approved did not fit the traditional or international definition of an apprenticeship.”