· News

Government urged to pay subsidies to employers that run internships

In her report released yesterday morning, Alison Wolf, professor of public policy at King's College London, who was commissioned by education secretary Michael Gove (pictured) to investigate vocational courses, praised apprenticeship schemes, and advised the Government businesses should be given financial support to help train up apprentices under 19.

The Government is thought to be largely in support of the recommendations.

Wolf said students who study vocational subjects should continue to take more academic studies to supplement this and warned the Government about the 11,000 GCSE level students taking subjects such as 'personal effectiveness', which includes modules in how to claim unemployment benefits.

The 157 Group has welcomed several of the recommendations made by Wolf.

Lynne Sedgmore, executive director of the 157 Group, said: "We believe the Wolf Review affirms the important role of vocational education for 16 to 19 year olds and the successful ways in which further education colleges contribute to this. Although the report is critical of some vocational programmes it is very clear that it is the centralised design of qualifications and the way they have been used by government agencies that is the core of the issue not colleges. ? ?"We have argued consistently for the relaxation of central control of qualifications and so we particularly welcome the recommendation that funding should follow the learner.

"We agree with the recommendations that institutions should be free to offer any qualifications they please from a regulated awarding body, and encouraged to include non-qualifications-based activity; and that young people should have more flexibility in terms of which programme level or type of qualification they can pursue." ??Sandra Kerr, national director of race for Opportunity, added: "The review launched today has shown exactly what we have been advocating for for some time. We can't emphasise enough the importance and positive impact of apprenticeships for boosting aspiration and providing career guidance for people from a Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background. For many young people, there is a lack of understanding of what careers are open to them, let alone the skills and work experience they need to get on the first rung of the career ladder. When work experience generally means working for free, it's not necessarily a viable option.? ?"Apprenticeships offer a practical route for career progression and access to support these individuals may not have received otherwise. Previous studies published in respected journals, such as the Harvard Business Review have confirmed the fact that ethnic minorities who advance the furthest in their career all share one characteristic; a strong network of mentors and corporate sponsors who nurture their professional development.? ?"It is important to note that a focus on apprenticeships is not simply for assisting young people in their career progression but that there are a number of benefits to be gained by businesses. In ensuring companies are locating and nurturing talent from a diverse pool of people at a young age, businesses can ensure they are tapping into and nurturing the best talent available to them. This will also mean their workforce is representative and in-line with the diverse audience with whom they wish to do business."