Proposals on the future of further education (FE) outlined by the Labour Party have been welcomed by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP).
Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt announced recently that Labour would ensure apprenticeships last for at least two years and would be of equivalent standard to GCSEs, while he also revealed the party would aim to free schools from the current "top-down, target-driven, exam-obsessed" culture.
Mr Hunt stated that Labour would remember the 50 per cent of young people who do not go on to study at university after they have left school or college.
Stewart Segal, AELP chief executive, stated that Labour needs to work with the organisations in the FE and skills sector in order to drive quality improvements, reports the Training Journal.
Speaking at a Microsoft conference, he said: "We agree that we need to ensure that vocational pathways are high quality. We also agree with him that there is always scope for improvement in the quality of apprenticeships although employer and learner surveys consistently report high satisfaction ratings with the programme."
Mr Segal added that longer apprenticeships could be useful, but suggested there should not be a set duration due to the fact there are some examples where a shorter course would be more appropriate than one lasting at least two years.
Many young people who sign up to an apprenticeship also study via e-learning in order to develop their skills and knowledge further. Being able to earn while they learn is an appealing advantage of apprenticeships for individuals, while online learning lets them learn at their own pace and fit in their classes around their existing commitments.
Apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular, with a recent independent poll commissioned by energy company British Gas finding that two-fifths (41 per cent) of youngsters have considered taking an apprenticeship as one of their options when they leave school.
Susan Hooper, managing director at British Gas Residential Services, explained the research shows how much progress has been made in vocational training in the last few years.