A best practice report on apprenticeships for young people by Ofsted has found that those who had completed work experience, course tasters or vocational study were more likely to make good progress in their apprenticeship than those starting straight from school without it.

The Apprenticeships for young people best practice report also found that good relationships between employers and trainers were crucially important in capturing evidence of apprentices’ skills.

The National Director for Learning and Skills, Matthew Coffey, said:

“There has been much concern lately about the quality of apprenticeships. When looking at the national picture we can see that around 70% of apprenticeships are good or outstanding but more needs to be done to improve provision further. The Apprenticeships for young people best practice report will provide a vast pool of knowledge and examples on how to deliver apprenticeships successfully and will act as a useful guide for trainers, assessors and educational leaders wishing to improve.

“When preparing post-16s for apprenticeships schools need to provide meaningful work experience. 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.”

Despite the benefits of work experience, the employers in the survey said that the number of students they could accommodate on placements was restricted. This was because too many local schools tended to ask for placements during the same short period at the end of the academic year.

Providers and employers felt that the most important attributes of a potential apprentice were the right attitude and commitment to employment.

Employers and trainers who worked together and had a good understanding of how the apprenticeship was delivered were better placed to help learners capture evidence of the skills they learnt during their apprenticeship. This way they had a wide base of evidence to link their workplace training with the training they had done with their provider, marrying both their practical and theoretical skills.