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Protection of the term ‘apprentice’.


What is an apprenticeship? Until recently, it has been a term with a very loose definition attached to it, and one which has been used by many different people to describe a variety of different things.


However, this is soon likely to change as the Government has carried out a consultation on creating an offence which would prohibit the use of the terms “apprentice” or “apprenticeship” in relation to any course or training in England unless it is in relation to a government-funded apprenticeship.


The measures, which would be part of the Enterprise Bill, will make unauthorised use of the term illegal. This is already the case for the term “degree”.


The proposals have been developed to combat the prospect of a small number of training providers misleading learners by offering substandard, poor quality courses with the cachet of ‘apprenticeship’.


At the moment, there is nothing to stop a training provider using the terms ‘apprentice’ or ‘apprenticeship’ to describe any course of work-based learning.


Prospective apprentices, their parents and the employers who would be offering them places could find themselves misled into thinking that what they were getting was a high-quality government-funded apprenticeship. Those training providers who did offer genuine apprenticeships could find their own reputation suffering as a result.


To ensure that they meet the requirements of the proposed legislation, training providers would have to offer an apprenticeship that provided at least a year’s training as well as other requirements, many of which are specific to the area covered by the particular apprenticeship.

The Government was at pains to point out that the proposal would not stop employers from offering their own internal, fully-funded apprenticeships.


There would also be nothing in the proposed legislation to stop employers from accessing other skills training from a provider. However, the provider would not be allowed to advertise that skills training as an apprenticeship if it did not comply with particular requirements regarding approved apprenticeship training.


Although the Government expects that the majority of training providers would wish to comply with the new legislation, there would be a deterrent in case of non-compliance, and this would take the form of a fine following prosecution in the Magistrates’ Court.


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