I was hoping to highlight the list of approved schemes in my reply but the link seems to have temporarily disappeared in the recent website revamp (no doubt to be restored soon).
An apprenticeship is not approved by the IET unless it has passed an initial review and is subjected to regular monitoring/re-approval.
Many larger companies might offer a range of apprenticeships, some of which may not necessarily be engineering and technology focused, or at the advanced or higher level.
It should surprise no-one that the best apprenticeships provide an excellent route into an engineering career. I was delighted to recognise one of our youngest new Chartered Engineers last week, the route taken was via an apprenticeship and subsequent part time/distance learning to HNC, BEng & MSc whilst employed as an engineer.
It was quite common at one time for many large organisations to recruit most of their engineering talent as apprentices, with options for craft, technician and engineer depending on aptitude. This approach has never died, but declined with the fragmentation of utilities and decline of some large industries. For many enthusiastic and able young people full-time university attendance therefore became the main pathway.
As a result it is increasingly common to find people with engineering degrees (including MEng) working in technician roles. Some innovative universities have already worked with the IET to recognise degrees with suitable work experience in a similar way to an apprenticeship.
There will always be a place (and employer demand) for academically challenging courses with the "apprenticeship" (i.e. work based training) coming later. However in my opinion, concurrent experience and formal learning is the optimum approach for developing the majority of Technicians and Engineers. Government should therefore strongly encourage collaborative approaches between employers and colleges/universities. Funding for apprenticeships and more vocational (often part-time/distance learning) courses is essential, but funding does need to "feed the front line" to produce results, otherwise we risk creating more administrators than engineers. Not necessarily an unwelcome outcome - if that that it is actually the policy objective!
Roy Bowdler IEng FIET FCIPD
IET Registration & Standards