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16 November 2002
3.30-4.00pm


Read John Cole's apprenticeship experiences

As John Cole comes to the third and final part of his series on apprenticeship he looks at apprenticeship in the 21st Century.  Many young people have ‘served their time’ in the workshops of Rolls Royce but today Modern Apprenticeships put emphasis on ‘competence’ not ‘time served’.  As John Cole discovered when he visited Rolls Royce - today’s apprentices sit National Vocational Qualifications rather than sign indentures.  

    Steve Mason, head of IT in a Blackburn hospital, had always believed that Britain would suffer from the decline in apprenticeship 20 years ago.  He had himself, ‘served his time’ in an engineering firm and he was able to put that experience to good use when he took on Gareth Grundy as a Modern Apprentice.  Since the programme was recorded, Gareth has got a job as a Junior Technical Support Officer at the hospital – a direct result of his Modern Apprenticeship.  

      However there are concerns about Modern Apprenticeships.  Many young people are not completing their apprenticeship.  In some years the success rate in service trades has been as low as one quarter.  Academics who make the comparison between the apprenticeship system in the UK and the apprenticeship system in Germany feel that employers are not taking responsibility for training.  John Cole speaks to Ivan Lewis the minister for Adult and Learning Skills.      

Ivan Lewis

Additional information

Joan Lane
Apprenticeship in England 1600-1914
UCL Press (1996)

Charles More
Skill and the English Working Class, 1870-1914
Croom Helm (1980)

Ainley, P and Rainbird, H (eds)
Apprenticeship: Towards a New Paradigm of Learning
Kogan Page (1999)

Evans, K, Hodkinson, P and Unwin, L (eds)
Working to Learn: Transforming Workplace Learning
Kogan Page (2002)

Unwin, L and Wellington, J
Young People's Perspectives on Education, Training and Employment
Kogan Page (2001)

Fuller, A and Unwin, L,
From cordwainers to customer service: the changing relationship between apprentices, employers and communities in England SKOPE Monograph No 3, Universities of Oxford and Warwick, 2000

Fuller, A and Unwin, L "Learning as Apprentices in the Contemporary UK Workplace: creating and managing expansive and restrictive participation", Journal of Education and Work, 2003, in press

Ryan, P and Unwin, L, "Apprenticeship in the British Training Market", National Institute Economic Review, No.178, 2001, pp.99-114, 2001

Fuller, A and Unwin L, "Modern Apprenticeship: a critique of the UK¹s multi-sector and social inclusion approach", Journal of Education and Work, 16:1, 2003, in press

Howard Gospel, "The Decline of Apprenticeship Training in Britain", Industrial Relations Journal, Vol. 26, No. 1, March 1995, pp. 32-45

Howard Gospel, "The Revival of Apprenticeship Training in Britain?", British Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 36, No. 3, September 1998, pp. 435-57

Professor Lorna Unwin, Centre for Labour Market Studies, research project on apprenticeship is part of an ESRC funded research network on Improving Incentives for Workplace Learning.

Centre for Labour Market Studies at the University of Leicester looking at training, human resource development and vocational education.

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John Cole, the BBC's former political editor, has been a journalist for more than 50 years. He served his own apprenticeship on the Belfast Telegraph in the late 1940s, and covered industrial affairs there, in Manchester and in London, latterly as Labour correspondent of The Guardian.

His other jobs have included: political correspondent on the Belfast Telegraph; news editor and deputy editor on The Guardian; deputy editor of The Observer; and political editor for the BBC.

He has written four books: The Poor of the Earth (on Third World employment); The Thatcher Years; As It Seemed to Me (a political memoir); and A Clouded Peace (a novel). He has honorary doctorates from St Andrew's, the Open University, Queen's Belfast, and the University of Ulster.

He is married to Madge and they have four sons and eight grandchildren.


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