Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Business must address quality factors, says Ofsted

November 2015

Companies which place an emphasis on employing apprentices as part of their CSR strategy to help reduce youth unemployment would have read with great interest recently the message from Sir Michael Wishaw, chief inspector of schools at Ofsted, who was vocal in his criticism of the number of low-skilled jobs on offer to apprentices.

In highlighting the widespread availability of apprenticeships that offered little educational value, Sir Michael said businesses were wasting public money by using the apprentices to do work they were either already capable of, or doing jobs that are of no realistic long-term value. Quality was the key, he said, rather than quantity.

The Government’s drive to increase apprentices has not, he said, led to an increase in quality and too many FE providers had focused on “equipping youngsters with dubious qualifications of little economic relevance.”

Part of the issue is that the huge scope of apprenticeships on offer has led to quality erosion as, at the lower end of the scale, businesses see it as a cheaper and easier way of getting help than employing someone, without equipping them with the necessary skills they require to build a career. Making coffee and mopping floors were reported.

If the Government wants best value out of the three million apprenticeships it is delivering in the next five years, it – supported by external bodies such as Ofsted - need to retain a stronger grip of what apprentices mean to people so that they are seen as a positive and viable alternative to tertiary education.

They also need a greater control of the apprenticeship brand to ensure it is promoted as a badge of honour that benefit apprentices and businesses, rather than being devalued to the extent that youngsters seeking a path into the workplace are discouraged to get involved.

The role of business in youth employment and skills will be discussed at the CSR Summit 2016. For information and tickets, visit

Ofsted | UK & NI Ireland | youth unemployment


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