An apprenticeship system ‘Fit for the future’


Apprenticeships are key to addressing urgent skills gaps in the engineering, technology and manufacturing sector, but have declined in recent years. Former Labour and Conservative ministers Lord Knight and Lord Willetts, with support from EngineeringUK, launched ‘Fit for the future: a 5-point plan to grow and sustain engineering and technology apprenticeships’.

The inquiry set out to understand the reasons behind this decline and to make recommendations on how to address it. The evidence received suggests that many businesses, particularly smaller firms, are struggling to find the capacity and resources to take on young apprentices, and companies are concerned about the quality of training provision and barriers in relation to apprenticeship standards and bureaucracy.

On the other hand, for young people, the impact of the pandemic and years of disruption to their education have taken their toll, making it harder for many of them to navigate their next step into further education and
higher education or employment.

The report sets out a 5-point plan aimed at addressing the barriers and concerns identified by businesses, education providers and young people:

  • rebalance education – ensure that the secondary school system is fit for the future and there is genuine parity of esteem between technical and academic pathways
  • support young people – provide better support for young people throughout their apprenticeship journey and take decisive action to break down barriers
  • refocus funding – ensure long-term funding for apprenticeships at all levels and greater equity between vocational and academic routes
  • enable businesses – enable more SMEs to play an active role in apprenticeships. Work together with employers as well as providers to ensure that engineering and technology apprenticeship standards are given the strategic importance they merit and meet the skills needs of the sector
  • employers taking action – encourage employers to play their part in growing and sustaining apprenticeships for the future and to help widen opportunities for young people

Check out the report in full and read the executive summary below.


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