'No benefit' to short apprenticeships

 

Apprenticeships of less than six months provide "no real benefit" to
trainees or their employers, a parliamentary report warned today.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee praised the Business Department's drive to boost the number of apprenticeships, which quadrupled from 79,000 in 2006/07 to 325,500 in 2010/11, with the proportion completed successfully rising from 34% to 78% over six years.

But the cross-party committee voiced concern over the amount and quality of training, and welcomed skills minister John Hayes' announcement in April that in future the vast majority of apprenticeships will last more than 12 months, with a six-month minimum for over-19s who already have qualifications.

Today's report said that the £451 million apprenticeship programme, offering work-related training for full-time employees in England, was a proven success, delivering £18 in economic benefits for every £1 spent.

But the committee said England still lagged behind other countries in the size of its programme and in the proportion of apprentices taking advanced-level courses.

It warned that the programme will have to be better promoted after 2013/14, when over-24s will be required to contribute financially to the cost of advanced apprenticeships.

The MPs added that the National Apprenticeship Service was setting rates for courses on the basis of "out-dated assumptions" and did not know what profits training providers were making or whether it was paying them too much.

Committee chairman Margaret Hodge said: "The apprenticeship programme has been a success.

"The department has done very well in raising the number of adult apprenticeships, which more than quadrupled in the four years to 2010/11. The proportion of adult apprentices who successfully completed their apprenticeship also rose, to more than three-quarters in 2010/11 compared with just a third six years before.

"But the department could do more to maximise the programme's impacts.

"My committee is concerned about the number of short training programmes classified as apprenticeships. The National Apprenticeship Service expects them to last between one and four years, but around a fifth of apprenticeships lasted for only six months or even less.

"The danger is that apprenticeships lasting such a short time are of no real benefit to either the individuals who take part or employers and could devalue the programme. I am pleased therefore that the skills minister announced recently that adult apprenticeships will last a minimum of six months and normally at least 12 months

"We also have concerns about the amount and quality of training some apprentices receive. Many do not receive the off-the-job training they are entitled to and this is something the department must address.

"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."

Mr Hayes said: "I am delighted that the PAC has praised the Government for its successful apprenticeship programme.

"Over the past two years, the number of apprenticeships has increased from 279,700 in 2009/10 to 457,000 in 2010/11, and tough new measures to ensure that quality matches quantity have helped to make apprenticeships the gold standard vocational qualification.

"As the committee has pointed out, apprenticeships offer exceptional value for taxpayer money and great benefits to the individual. This year the National Audit Office found that adult apprenticeships deliver £18 of economic benefits for each pound of Government investment.

"Typically an employer will see a return on their investment in around two years. A survey published this week shows that nine out of 10 apprentices are satisfied with their training and a third have received a promotion as a result.

"However, we are far from complacent. We are continuously working to drive up standards. New safeguards are being put in place to strengthen monitoring, reporting and subcontracting arrangements and last month I announced that all apprenticeships must now last a minimum of 12 months. A Standards Review will report in the autumn, recommending how to spread best practice and maximise the impact of Government investment."

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

WORLDbytes: Two-Day Intensive Camera training and Shoot: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th March

expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are currently looking for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?