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Work experience aids success

Schools should organise better placements, says Ofsted

Young people who have had exposure to work experience or vocational study are more likely to make good progress in their apprenticeship than those starting straight from school without it, according to a new report from the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted).

Matthew Coffey, national director for learning and skills at Ofsted, says: “There has been much concern lately about the quality of apprenticeships.

“When looking at the national picture, we can see that around 70 per cent of apprenticeships are good or outstanding but more needs to be done to improve provision further.”

Coffey suggests that schools should provide “meaningful work experience” to post-16s when preparing them for apprenticeships: “While the majority of learners are completing their apprenticeships, around a quarter are dropping out. It is clear that more work experience, vocational study and course tasters are needed to ensure learners are on the right apprenticeship for them and that they understand the demands of work.”

Ofsted argues that apprenticeships have a key role in the government’s strategy to develop the skills of the workforce and to promote growth, as well as in rebalancing of the nation’s economy. The watchdog stresses the importance of employers and teachers working together so that learners can show evidence and be readily assessed on both the practical and theoretical skills they gain.

Despite the benefits of work experience, employers surveyed said that the number of students they could accommodate on placements was restricted.