Panorama takes a look at The Great Apprentice Scandal


The reporter behind the investigative look at apprenticeships has lifted the lid on what viewers can expect when tuning into the show next week.

Apprenticeships will be thrown into the spotlight when BBC’s flagship TV show Panorama presents The Great Apprentice Scandal at 8.30pm on BBC One.

The billing pledges to look at the “story of poor quality training, of disappointed young people, and highlight the example of some training companies, who are making a killing out of public funds” in the half-hour long show.

Reporter Shelley Jofre will also speak to “insiders who are blowing the whistle and hears claims of forged and doctored paperwork and of apprentices who are entering the world of work without proper training, work experience or qualifications.”

Today, Ms Jofre gives FE Week an exclusive insight into the programme.

She said: “We’re looking at a variety of private training providers from relatively new, small companies to big household names; some that employ a few hundred apprentices at a time, to those who employ tens of thousands.”

I was surprised to find out how little scrutiny there appears to be of some of the subcontractors.”

Ms Jofre admits that prior to investigating apprenticeships for the show, which began back in October, that she “didn’t know much about apprenticeships” but quickly became fascinated by the subject as she started to dig deeper.

She said: “I didn’t know much about apprenticeships before I began to do the research for the show; probably like any person on the street.

“I thought I knew what an apprenticeship was, involving a school leaver doing three or four years learning a craft and doing block release from college.”

She added: “I was fascinated; the further you look at the story behind the numbers, the more interesting I thought it was.”

Key areas covered in the show, she says, include a lack of jobs for learners while undertaking their apprenticeship and issues with subcontracting.

Ms Jofre said: “General themes covered include taking a look at the quality of some apprenticeships.

“I was astonished to find that in England and Northern Ireland that there have been apprenticeships where there’s no employer involved.

“I know the government has taken action about that to say that everybody must have an employer, but it seems remarkable that that was even called an apprenticeship.

“We spoke to some students involved in this and the one thing they thought was lacking was work experience, which is what you think an apprenticeship is all about.”

She added: “And then we are taking a closer look at the issue of subcontracting.

“I was surprised to find out how little scrutiny there appears to be of some of the subcontractors.

“What also surprised me was there’s a large amount of public money involved and the big number of learners who get on subcontracted apprenticeships and they leave feeling disillusioned.”

It also looks at learner views, with Ms Jofre adding: “Young people are saying ‘I want to learn on the job from somebody that knows what they are doing and have career progression and have a secure future’.”

Ms Jofre hopes the show will add to the debate on apprenticeships.

“I realise there’s already a lot of scrutiny of the apprenticeship ‘brand’ going on and I would hope our film would add constructively to that debate, particularly in terms of hearing from young learners themselves.

“There are a lot of high-quality apprenticeships out there, but it’s easy to forget that for each apprenticeship that doesn’t deliver – and we’ve found quite a few – there’s a real person behind that story who embarked on the training with high hopes,” she said.


Leave a Reply