OECD: Youth apprenticeships need better basic skills

Youth apprenticeships in England need to include more general education to overcome a lack of basic skills such as literacy and numeracy, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

OECD, an intergovernmental economic organisation with 35 member countries, examined the apprenticeship system in a new report, and found that young English apprentices receive far less general education than apprentices in other countries.

One of the report’s authors, education analyst Malgorzata Kuczera, explained in a blog post that general education (including maths and English) adds up to between about 50 and 100 hours over the duration of an apprenticeship in England.

German and Swiss youth apprenticeships, by comparison, require around 400 hours of general education covering a range of subjects. Norwegian apprenticeships require nearly 600 hours of general education.

Kuczera said: “The remedy, as described in the OECD’s new report, is for England to include more general education in youth apprenticeships—though doing so is not exactly straightforward. Increased general education will demand more time from apprentices, taking them away from the workplace. This is unlikely to be popular with employers. It may also require a differentiated approach to adult and youth apprentices who may be less in need of initial basic education. And of course, additional teaching will involve more human and financial resources.”

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