Higher apprenticeship take-up increases, but completion rates vary too much


An increasing number of people in Wales are keen to earn while they learn through higher apprenticeships, but completion rates vary too much across Wales, according to a report published today by Estyn. Inspectors found that the time taken by learners to complete their qualification successfully varies across different work-based learning providers, with a minority of learners taking too long to finish.


The report, ‘Higher Apprenticeships in work-based learning’, evaluates the standards, provision and leadership of this type of apprenticeships, which are comparable to certain university-level qualifications.  It highlights the positive experience of many learners who welcome the opportunity to gain formal qualifications and develop their practical skills at a supervisory or managerial level, but recommends that work-based learning organisations address the length of time it takes some learners to finish.

Meilyr Rowlands, Chief Inspector, says,

Higher level apprenticeships are an ideal way to recognise people’s skills in the workplace and for them to gain a formal qualification while still earning.  The challenge now is to bring completion rates up to the level of other apprenticeships and to increase take-up in priority skill areas such as information technology and engineering.

The report highlights success stories and notes the benefits of gaining higher apprenticeship qualifications through strengthening the leadership and communication skills of learners and by increasing promotion and job opportunities. In a few cases, learners find the programme too demanding or difficult to balance with work and home life.

Inspectors recommend that work-based learning providers better support learners through mentoring, workshops and training, as well as engaging with new employers.  In addition, there is a role for the Welsh Government in facilitating better understanding in work-based learning providers about taking into account learners’ existing literacy and numeracy qualifications.

Publication date

Thursday, 20 September, 2018