Blunkett rebrands apprenticeships

February 18, 2000

The "vocational A level" is to be the name of advanced-level general national vocational qualifications under a raft of measures to marry the reforms in higher education with work-based training and vocational further education.

As part of a further education package alongside the two-year foundation degree, education secretary David Blunkett this week announced plans to train an extra 250,000 16 to 18-year-olds next year, underpinned by the introduction of new forms of vocational training at level three, equivalent to A level.

As well as a "strengthened" vocational A level, re-badged to give vocational study parity of esteem with A levels, Mr Blunkett announced the reform of work-based apprenticeships.

Modern apprenticeships, much hyped since their launch in 1995 as the work based route to level-three qualifications, will also be renamed as "advanced modern apprenticeships", to give parity with A levels. Their lower level counterparts, national traineeships, will be re-badged as "foundation modern apprenticeships".

Advanced modern apprenticeships will be made more rigorous, with a two-year minimum period of learning, and a period of "off-the-job" learning in college, and according to the minister, "major improvements to the knowledge and understanding required from apprenticeships programmes".

Speaking at the Further Education Funding Council's annual conference in Birmingham, the day after his "landmark" higher education speech, Mr Blunkett said: "The key task is to raise the status, attractiveness and effectiveness of work-based learning and vocational education."

Mr Blunkett said he would invest Pounds 30 million in expansion.

David Melville, chief executive of the FEFC, told the conference that funding changes would "free" money for expansion and about 1,000 new lecturers. The minimum unit of funding would be reduced to allow colleges to claim cash for more feasible, shorter basic skills courses.

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