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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Improving Incentives to Learning in the Workplace

Grant reference: L139251005

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Book chapter details

TLRP: Skill formation in a changing society: questioning the viability of apprenticeship across traditional and non-traditional sectors in the UK
In this paper, we explore the changing nature and take up of apprenticeship in the United Kingdom (UK). We have argued elsewhere (Fuller and Unwin 1999) that in the heyday of apprenticeship following the Second World War and prior to the decline of manufacturing industry in the mid-to-late 1970s, there was a strong relationship between apprenticeship and community. Many towns and cities in the UK included one or more traditional apprenticeship providers (companies) who offered opportunities to young people, albeit largely to young men from working class backgrounds, for the acquisition of skilled status and long-term job security. Commitment to apprenticeship within the community was bolstered through parental and local support for the apprentice and a paternalistic approach from employers who undertook long-term responsibility for the development of the young person both socially and occupationally. We show in this paper that traditional apprenticeships in manufacturing industry were part of the fabric of local communities and provided reputable training and permanent jobs for generations of young people (albeit almost exclusively white males). Employers recruited apprentices according to the need to develop skills to serve their businesses. Active internal and local labour markets further strengthened the bonds between factory and town. The English industrial and social landscape has changed dramatically since the days when the Courtaulds’ factory in Derby employed 18,000 people and companies recruited tens of dozens of apprentices per year. Perhaps then, it was naïve to launch the Modern Apprenticeship in the hope that it might re-create the halcyon post-War days of youth training.
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Author A Fuller

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