Does apprenticeship work for adults?

Researchers: Professor Alison Fuller | Professor Lorna Unwin ...

Project overview


This project examined government-supported apprenticeship in England, focussing on the experiences and perspectives of apprentices aged 25 and over and their employers. It also considered training, upskilling and reskilling of adult workers more generally.

The study consisted of a literature review and statistical mapping of government-supported apprenticeship in England, and case study research in five organisations. 

Findings

There is a latent demand from adults for training and qualifications (including in English, maths and ICT) to support the fulfilment of their career aspirations. Many respondents believe they have the expertise, experience and potential to make a productive contribution to their places of work and to the economy more generally. Yet the flexibility which government currently affords employers and training providers has led to a visible lack of consistency in the quality and substance of apprenticeships. Some apprentices experience little more than the accreditation of their existing knowledge and skills, with an absence of significant new learning, whilst others achieve new levels of occupational expertise and build a platform for further progression.

Recommendations for policy and practice

1. The term ‘Apprenticeship’ is being misused. Fresh thinking, involving employers, providers and trades unions is needed to develop appropriate forms of publicly funded training to meet adult employees’ demands for upskilling and retraining.

2. Government should review the current reliance on the achievement of qualifications as the measure that
training has occurred. Accrediting adults for existing skills is worthwhile, but should not be classed as an apprenticeship. Adults value qualifications when they provide access to new learning.

3. Employers and providers are working together to meet the needs and build on the potential of an ageing workforce. This best practice needs showcasing and using as the catalyst for new approaches.

4. Adults want to improve their maths, English and ICT skills. Employers, providers and trades unions should be supported by government to meet this demand by ensuring that all forms of publicly funded training include opportunities to improve and practise these skills in the workplace.

5. Training providers and trades unions should use the considerable potential they have to ensure that adult apprenticeships involve substantial training.

6. Government and other stakeholders should review the extent to which publicly funded apprenticeship should challenge gender occupational stereoptyping and lead to career progression for women and men.

Latest on this project


Team


  • Professor Alison Fuller
    University College London
  • Professor Lorna Unwin
    University College London
  • Professor Pauline Leonard
    University of Southampton

  • Programme Head, Education
    Nuffield Foundation

Explore our projects

New

Education | 2020 - 2020

The impact of COVID-19 on mainstream schools in England

View project
Young-boy-wearing-glasses-watches-laptop-school-lesson-with-notepad-The-effects-COVID-19-on-families-time-use-child-development-PROJ
New

Education | 2020 - 2022

The effects of COVID-19 on families’ time-use and child development

View project
Teenage-girl-looks-at-smartphone-next-to-laptop-Growing-up-under-COVID-19-PROJ
New

Education | Welfare | 2020 - 2021

Growing up under COVID-19

View project
In progress

Education | 2020 - 2021

Post-16 educational trajectories and social inequalities in political engagement

View project
New

Justice | 2020 - 2022

Youth custody: Educational influences and labour market consequences

View project
In progress

Education | 2020 - 2022

Competitive effects of free schools on student outcomes in neighbouring schools

View project
In progress

Education | 2020 - 2022

Comparisons of cognitive skills and educational attainment across the UK

View project
Man-massages-own-hand-Longitudinal-evidence-how-arthritis-affects-earnings-PROJ
In progress

Welfare | 2020 - 2022

How arthritis affects earnings over time

View project
In progress

Education | Welfare | 2020 - 2020

Measuring the disadvantage attainment gap in 16-19 education

View project
Early years worker sitting at table with children
New

Education | 2020 - 2021

The ‘common elements’ approach: improving outcomes in early childhood education

View project
In progress

Education | 2020 - 2022

Teacher supply, shortages and working conditions in England and Wales

View project
Teenage-pupil-wearing-woolly-hat-writes-on-whiteboard-The-influence-of-headteachers-on-their-schools-PROJ
In progress

Education | 2020 - 2022

The influence of headteachers on their schools

View project
New

Justice | 2020 - 2022

Youth custody: Educational influences and labour market consequences

View project
New

Education | 2020 - 2020

The impact of COVID-19 on mainstream schools in England

View project
Early years worker sitting at table with children
New

Education | 2020 - 2021

The ‘common elements’ approach: improving outcomes in early childhood education

View project
Teenage-girl-looks-at-smartphone-next-to-laptop-Growing-up-under-COVID-19-PROJ
New

Education | Welfare | 2020 - 2021

Growing up under COVID-19

View project
Young-boy-wearing-glasses-watches-laptop-school-lesson-with-notepad-The-effects-COVID-19-on-families-time-use-child-development-PROJ
New

Education | 2020 - 2022

The effects of COVID-19 on families’ time-use and child development

View project
Man-massages-own-hand-Longitudinal-evidence-how-arthritis-affects-earnings-PROJ
In progress

Welfare | 2020 - 2022

How arthritis affects earnings over time

View project
In progress

Education | 2020 - 2021

Post-16 educational trajectories and social inequalities in political engagement

View project
In progress

Education | 2020 - 2022

Comparisons of cognitive skills and educational attainment across the UK

View project
Two young girls being taught fractions and decimals, learning from a school workbook together
In progress

Education | 2020 - 2021

Teaching fractions and decimals to children aged 3 to 11

View project
Teenage-pupil-wearing-woolly-hat-writes-on-whiteboard-The-influence-of-headteachers-on-their-schools-PROJ
In progress

Education | 2020 - 2022

The influence of headteachers on their schools

View project
Young-child-blurred-in-background-plays-with-abacus-in-foreground-Early-years-employment-pathways-PROJ
In progress

Education | 2019 - 2020

A systematic review of early years degrees and employment pathways

View project
In progress

Education | 2020 - 2022

Teacher supply, shortages and working conditions in England and Wales

View project
New

Education | 2020 - 2020

The impact of COVID-19 on mainstream schools in England

View project
In progress

Education | 2020 - 2021

Post-16 educational trajectories and social inequalities in political engagement

View project
Young-boy-wearing-glasses-watches-laptop-school-lesson-with-notepad-The-effects-COVID-19-on-families-time-use-child-development-PROJ
New

Education | 2020 - 2022

The effects of COVID-19 on families’ time-use and child development

View project
Teenage-girl-looks-at-smartphone-next-to-laptop-Growing-up-under-COVID-19-PROJ
New

Education | Welfare | 2020 - 2021

Growing up under COVID-19

View project
New

Justice | 2020 - 2022

Youth custody: Educational influences and labour market consequences

View project
Man-massages-own-hand-Longitudinal-evidence-how-arthritis-affects-earnings-PROJ
In progress

Welfare | 2020 - 2022

How arthritis affects earnings over time

View project
In progress

Education | 2020 - 2022

Comparisons of cognitive skills and educational attainment across the UK

View project
In progress

Education | 2020 - 2022

Competitive effects of free schools on student outcomes in neighbouring schools

View project
Teenage-pupil-wearing-woolly-hat-writes-on-whiteboard-The-influence-of-headteachers-on-their-schools-PROJ
In progress

Education | 2020 - 2022

The influence of headteachers on their schools

View project
Two young girls being taught fractions and decimals, learning from a school workbook together
In progress

Education | 2020 - 2021

Teaching fractions and decimals to children aged 3 to 11

View project
In progress

Education | Welfare | 2020 - 2020

Measuring the disadvantage attainment gap in 16-19 education

View project
Early years worker sitting at table with children
New

Education | 2020 - 2021

The ‘common elements’ approach: improving outcomes in early childhood education

View project
Maths resit students taking exam
Reported

Education | 2019 - 2020

A new mathematics GCSE curriculum for post-16 resit students

View project
Reported

Education | 2018 - 2018

GCSE and A-level results day project

View project
Reported

Education | 2018 - 2020

Teaching reading: an integrated programme for deaf & hearing children

View project
Reported

Education | 2018 - 2019

Developing a sustainable intervention for disadvantaged children

View project
Reported

Education | 2017 - 2018

Growing up digital

View project
Reported

Education | 2017 - 2020

Mathematics in Further Education Colleges (MiFEC)

View project
Reported

Education | 2017 - 2020

Educational attainment of children in need & children in care

View project
Reported

Welfare | 2017 - 2019

The economic integration of refugees in the UK

View project
Teacher and young schoolgirl in classroom look at building blocks brain training game together
Reported

Education | 2017 - 2019

Trialling an executive function training intervention for preschoolers

View project
Reported

Education | Welfare | 2017 - 2019

Undermatch in higher education: prevalence, drivers and outcomes

View project
Reported

Education | 2017 - 2018

The effect of retention and turnover on the teaching workforce

View project
Reported

Education | 2017 - 2019

Secondary school choice and academic attainment

View project
Search projects

We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.

Profile

COVID-19 response

Nuffield-funded social scientists are conducting COVID-19 research in real-time, to capture people’s experiences of the social, cultural and economic impacts of the pandemic.