Most new apprentices over 25, National Audit Office reports
Published: 1st Feb 2012 15:16:42
More than two-thirds of the apprenticeships created in England in the past five years were taken by the over-25s, says a spending watchdog.
And one in five of those running in 2010-11 lasted just six months, the National Audit Office report said.
The watchdog says adult apprenticeships give a good return for public money, but warns that rapid expansion of the scheme brings risks.
The government says the report recognises that progress has been made.
With unemployment among young people in the UK rising above one million in the autumn, according to government figures, ministers are keen to help more people in to work.
Apprenticeships are open to the over-16s. They are mainly provided by private firms and further education colleges, who are funded by the government.
Employers are expected to contribute to the cost of the apprenticeship but the NAO says some are not doing so.
The number of apprenticeships doubled between 2006 and 2011 and the NAO office found that more people were completing their schemes, up from 47% to 75% in that time.
In 2010-11 a total of £1.2bn was spent on schemes. Nearly 443,000 apprenticeships were started in that time and just over 300,000 of them involved people over 19 (known as adult apprentices).
The NAO report also said apprentices over 25 accounted for 68% of the increase in new apprenticeships between 2006 and 2011.
Head of the National Audit Office Amyas Morse said: "The apprenticeships programme has been providing a good return for public spending. Nevertheless, the department should set its sights higher in order to get better value from the £0.5bn and rising now spent on adult apprenticeships each year.
"It needs to target resources more effectively; confirm the training provided is in addition to what would have been provided without public support; and make sure that the funding system is informed by robust information on the cost of delivery."
The report said apprenticeships gave a good return on public money, because people who had been on the schemes went on to earn higher wages, but said that the government could "improve value for money significantly, in particular by targeting resources more on areas where the greatest economic returns can be made".
Skills minister John Hayes announced in December 2011 that there would be a review into the quality and duration of all apprenticeships schemes, and MPs on the Commons' Committee of Business, Innovation and Skills are holding an inquiry, with public hearings due to start at the end of the month.
The NAO report revealed that 87 providers of short-term apprenticeship schemes are being investigated to see if they are meeting their contractual obligations.
In 2010-11, one in five apprenticeships (34,600) lasted less than six months, while 3% (6,200) lasted less than three.
The government recently said all apprenticeships for 16- to 18-year-olds should take a minimum of 12 months and that it might extend this to adult apprenticeships.
A recent investigation by the BBC's 5 live Investigates programme revealed how one scheme which has been axed promised to train teenagers as football coaches and was funded by £6m of taxpayers' money and left thousands of those taking part without a qualification.
Minister for Skills John Hayes said: "Unprecedented investment, backed by tough new measures to ensure that quality matches quantity, has helped make apprenticeships the gold standard vocational qualification.
"So I am delighted that the NAO has recognised the progress we have made and that they identify the extraordinary economic benefits of apprenticeships."
He added: "The report rightly identifies a need to prioritise investment where returns are greatest, and that is what the government is doing.
"We will continue to drive improvement by developing new higher level apprenticeships, giving training providers more freedom to meet the needs of local businesses, reducing bureaucracy and making financial incentives available to small firms hiring their first apprentices."
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Most new apprentices over 25, National Audit Office reports [Online] (Updated 1st Feb 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/222588/Most-new-apprentices-over-25-National-Audit-Office-reports [Accessed 25th Apr 2014]
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With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
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