Apprenticeships are a job with substantial training and have long been a way for people to combined learning and earning.

Apprenticeships can be a great way to meet employers’ skills needs, with evidence showing they can increase productivity and boost staff morale and retention. They can also help people to combine learning and earning to improve their skills and career prospects.

Our work on apprenticeships focuses on access and quality to ensure that:

  • everyone who can do an apprenticeship, has the chance to do so
  • apprenticeships lead to genuine benefits to individuals and employers

But there are significant inequalities in the take-up of apprenticeship. We explore the underlying causes of these inequalities and what can be done to address them.

We have brought together thinking of the future in our apprenticeships essays collection.

Our research findings include calls for the following:

World-class quality

No one doubts that our best apprenticeships are world class, but we also know that too many apprentices are not getting the high-quality training they deserve. We have called for apprenticeship standards to be benchmarked against the best in the world.

Ensuring apprenticeships pay

Undertaking a high-quality apprenticeship is an investment in the future. But we also need to ensure that they are affordable now. Our research shows that many employers don’t understand the rules around apprentice pay, leaving too many apprentices paid below the legal minimum. Add to this the need for action on travel costs and the complexities of the benefit system, then it becomes clear that we need a wider strategy to make apprenticeships pay.

Addressing inequalities

Much of our apprenticeship research has focussed on tackling under-representation – people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, who are care leavers and those with disabilities are under-represented, and there are significant disparities in outcomes by gender and socio-economic group. Improving this critical if we want to ensure that everyone has a fair chance to benefit from an apprenticeship and that employers have the widest talent pool to draw from.

All Change: Where next for Apprenticeships?

Learning and Work Institute curated an essay collection with leading experts setting out ways to improve the quality of apprenticeships and ensure fair access to training.

One of our Festival of Learning winners talks about the importance of her apprenticeship.

News coverage of our work on apprenticeships