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Call for action on apprenticeships
The Government has been urged to improve the quality of apprenticeships, including the introduction of a new work-based programme to help jobseekers.
Ministers agreed that the bar on apprenticeships must be raised after an independent review by entrepreneur Doug Richard called for a series of changes to improve the system.
He recommended that apprenticeships should be redefined, with one qualification for each occupation, while everyone on a programme should reach a good level in English and maths.
A new work-based programme should be launched to support entry into employment, which should replace Level 2 apprenticeships, the report recommended.
Mr Richard, founder of School for Startups, said: "With the myriad of learning experiences which are currently labelled as apprenticeships, we risk losing sight of the core features of what makes apprenticeships work so my conclusion is that we need to look again at what it means to be an apprentice and what it means to offer an apprenticeship as an employer.
"Apprenticeships need to be high quality training with serious kudos and tangible value both to the apprentice and the employer.
"I want to hear about an 18-year-old who looked at their options and turned down a place at Oxbridge to take up an apprenticeship if that is the right path for them and I want to hear that their parents were thrilled."
Education Secretary Michael Gove said: "We must raise the bar on apprenticeships if we are to have a programme fit for the future.
"It is vital that the qualifications and assessment involved in every apprenticeship are rigorous, trusted, and give employers confidence in the ability of their apprentices."
Ministers said they will respond to the recommendations in the new year.