Boost benefits of apprenticeships, say MPs

By Richard Johnstone | 17 May 2012

More should be done to maximise the advantages of apprenticeships for adults, MPs said today.

A Public Accounts Committee probe into England’s Adult Apprenticeships Programme concluded that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills had ‘done very well’ to more than quadruple the number of adult apprenticeship places in only four years.

The proportion of people who successfully complete their apprenticeship has also increased, up from just one-third to more than three-quarters in the six years to 2010/11.

But the committee said there was more that could be done to increase the number of employers offering apprenticeships. It also called for an assessment of whether greater economic benefit could be secured by focusing on certain employment sectors.

PAC chair Margaret Hodge said: ‘Many employers still see apprenticeships as a cost rather than an investment. The department needs to do more to promote the benefits of apprenticeships both to employers and individuals, so that England’s Apprenticeship Programme can catch up with the programmes of other countries.

‘If the service is to get better at targeting of resources, it needs to understand better which apprenticeships in which sectors deliver the best value for money. It doesn’t currently know what levels of profit the providers are making and whether it is paying them too much for some types of apprenticeship.’

Hodge also raised concerns over the high number of short schemes in operation. Apprenticeships should take between one and four years to complete, but currently around 20% are finished in less than six months.

She said short schemes were ‘of no real benefit’ and could ‘devalue the programme’.

Around 325,500 adult apprentices started in England in the 2010/11 academic year. During the 2010/11 financial year, the government spent £451m on the schemes. For each £1 of public money, the National Audit Office has estimated an economic return of £18.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

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