This letter appeared in the Financial Times Saturday 7 April 2012
Sir, Michael Portillo hits the nail on the head with his suggestion of funding political parties out of tax revenues. Britain is the nation of common sense and everybody knows instinctively that “Who pays, says!” . Neither the union barons nor the rich donors should do either and it is pure logic that the voting, taxpaying public should do it. The Allies introduced this system in Germany after the last war and it works well – as do so many of the checks and balances, which govern modern Germany’s public life. There appears to be a growing murkiness in Britain in the relationship between business, unions, politicians, the media and police, which eats at the fabric of this free, open and liberal society. David Cameron would be well advised to forget about the “Big Society” with less regulation and rather re-establish a more “Orderly Society” with a dose of “Ordnungspolitik” to save it.
German Industry UK (GIUK) has been in discussion with John Hayes MP, Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning. Conversations regarding the development of German models of vocational training to benefit the UK economy have led GIUK to develop a proposal for progressing UK Apprenticeship schemes to become more successful.
Britain has been pretty good in training its elites but has neglected the training of “foot soldiers” for decades. If one wants to turn innovations into successful products, one needs both, and if David Cameron’s “Big Society” is to have any meaning in further education then his government has to look at apprenticeships in a new structured manner.
John Hayes himself recently made an announcement regarding the government’s commitment to progressing Apprenticeship schemes in the UK, saying “We must create a radically new model for workplace training, with apprenticeships at its heart”.
In view of John Hayes’ statement, during a meeting between GIUK and Mr Hayes on 3 February 2010, about his interest in bringing key elements of the German Dual Vocational Training System to Britain, GERMAN INDUSTRY UK has developed the following proposal.
UK Apprentice Training
GIUK is of the opinion that the present UK apprentice training system requires simplifying, restructuring and more relevant content, for companies to buy into it.
Since successive governments largely abandoned apprenticeships, a vacuum was created, which has been filled with a myriad of well-meaning but chaotic initiatives, duplicating many efforts and lacking structure and transparency.
From comparisons with continental systems we are also sure that it is possible to reduce cost drastically whilst increasing transparency and efficacy.
The Example from Germany
The German government spends around Euro 1,9 bn per annum on its Vocational Training Colleges and the certification of apprentices through local chambers of industry and commerce. German industry spends around Euro 18.5 bn p.a. net on training apprentices. Around 650,000 youngsters (or 58% of school leavers) enter into apprenticeships every year.
The completion rate is always well over 90%. In total, there are approximately 1.6 million youngsters training as apprentices in Germany, at any one time, at a cost to the state of about Euro 1,200 ( GBP 1,000) per person p.a. and about Euro 12,000 ( GBP 10,000) per person p.a. for the employers.
Setting up of a small working group to:
- Pick out of the 343 apprenticeships offered for instance in Germany the ca 200 most relevant to the UK
- Determine the minimum training content of each of those in the work place
- Determine the minimum training content of each in Vocational Training Colleges
- Determine the length of the apprenticeship according to grade of difficulty (2-4 years)
- Determine the Examining and Certification bodies for apprentices
- Transfer Vocational College training content to Further Education Colleges or set up new ones
- Propose sources of funding of colleges for apprentices’ training
- Propose pathways for steps from skilled person – after a period of practical work – to Master Craftsman, Technician, Bachelor of Administration, access to University etc for those with aspirations
A budget needs to be agreed by the Minister for Skills.
The Way Forward
Once the basis of the above has been agreed with the government and work commences, GERMAN INDUSTRY UK will actively support the new apprenticeships and will encourage its members to take on as many young people as possible as apprentices.
GERMAN INDUSTRY UK – THE VOICE OF GERMAN INDUSTRY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
Ymwlch Isaf, Criccieth, Gwynedd LL52 0PW · Telephone: 01766 523 113
Email: email@example.com · Website: www.gi-uk.co.uk