There is political consensus about the value of apprenticeships to the UK economy. Yet, it is clear that there is a long way to go before the potential of apprenticeships is realised. Apprenticeships continue to be seen as a second-best option for school leavers compared to university. Meanwhile, the majority of employers do not offer them.

The Commission on Apprenticeships was launched in March 2014. Co-chaired by Robert Halfon MP and Lord Maurice Glasman, and including a range of experts, the Commission sought to explore how to increase the power and potential of apprenticeships in the UK. This is the final report of the Commission, which draws on evidence gathered by the Demos secretariat over the course of 12 months. This includes responses to a written call for evidence, three oral evidence hearings with employers, training providers, and apprentices, five follow-up case study visits, and original polling of parents. The report features the construction industry as a major case study sector but makes recommendations for apprenticeships policy in the round.

The report is an attempt to build on the work started by the Richard Review and subsequent reforms. It considers issues that were addressed only tangentially in the Richard report, such as the role of schools in raising awareness of apprenticeships, as well as examining some of the detailed policy questions which arise from the trailblazer programmes.

The Commission recommends a number of measures to increase the quality and quantity of apprenticeships. These include creating better incentives for schools to promote apprenticeships and vocational learning; measures to reassure employers about the value and security of their investment in an apprentice; and measures to drive up the quality of the off-the-job training on offer.