United Kingdom

England must build on reforms to achieve a world class apprenticeship system


11/04/2018 - England has committed itself to a very ambitious programme to develop apprenticeships, but still faces many challenges to effectively implement current reforms and develop a world-class apprenticeship system, according to a new OECD report.


Apprenticeship in England, United Kingdom says that England has implemented major reforms to its apprenticeship system, including a new funding arrangement in the form of an employer levy. The energy with which England is currently investing in these reforms is impressive, according to the report, but several challenges remain.


Apprenticeship programs in England devote much less time to general education, including maths and English, than those in many other countries. English apprentices receive 50-100 hours of general education over the course of their apprenticeships, and general education is only mandatory for those who do not meet the minimum requirements. This compares to around 400 hours of general education covering a range of subjects in German and Swiss apprenticeships, and nearly 600 hours in Norwegian apprenticeships.


The report also finds that apprenticeship workplace training in England is not systematic and subject to little quality assurance. Lack of standards with regard to training in workplaces increases the risk that employers will substitute apprentices for unskilled workers.


The report recommends that England:


  • Increase the amount of general education in apprenticeships for young people;


  • Support systematic provision of training in work places;


  • Keep apprenticeship qualifications sufficiently broad and few in number;


  • Review current plans for competition in the assessment market;


  • Provide pre-apprenticeship and alternative apprenticeship programmes that effectively prepare disadvantaged young people to undertake full apprenticeship programmes;


  • Ensure that all degree apprenticeships include a substantial element of work-based learning with an employer.


For comments or further information, journalists should contact Malgorzata Kuczera:


Apprenticeship in England, United Kingdom is available at


For more information on the OECD’s VET and Adult Learning team, see:


Working with over 100 countries, the OECD is a global policy forum that promotes policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.


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