Consultation on protecting the term apprenticeship

30 July 2015

The Government announced in Summer Budget 2015 their commitment to achieve 3 million more apprenticeship starts which continues to increase the status of apprenticeships, and the quality that they offer. However this also increases the risk that a small number of training providers may misuse the term ‘apprenticeship’.

The Government has therefore published a consultation with proposals to legislate protection of the term ‘apprenticeship’ to prevent potential misuse.

Employers, parents and prospective apprentices could be misled into thinking they were being offered a high quality Government funded apprenticeship, when this is not the case. Further, the rights and reputations of training providers who do offer statutory apprenticeships could be undermined.

Legally, in the absence of legislation, there is nothing to stop misuse from occurring at present as the term ‘apprenticeship’ or ‘apprentice’ has not been protected in legislation.

Government considers that action is needed to protect the strong reputation of apprenticeships and high quality training providers, prevent the dilution of the apprenticeship brand and give employers confidence that they are investing in a high quality product. This will strengthen their standing, and help ensure that apprenticeships are recognised as a career path equal to higher education.

Proposed option

The proposal is that Government creates an offence which would prohibit a person using the term ‘apprenticeship’ or ‘apprentice’ in relation to any course or training in England unless it is in relation to a Government funded apprenticeship. This would not affect employers who would be free to offer any training to their own employees and apprentices (including those with contracts of apprenticeship).

Employers would still be free to access other skills training from a provider, but the provider would not be able to advertise it as relating to an apprenticeship if it does not relate to approved apprenticeship training. Thus training providers would be prevented from offering poor quality ‘apprenticeship’ training without introducing new burdens on employers.

The consultation also looks at determining what form the penalty and enforcement regime may take.

This consultation is open for response until 19 August 2015.