Statement from PAC Chair on NAO report on Adult Apprenticeships

01 February 2012

NATIONAL AUDIT OFFICE: Adult Apprenticeships

A statement from The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts:

The Apprenticeship Programme has grown rapidly since 2006 and is benefiting both employers and apprentices, but there needs to be much greater focus on getting value for money from the £0.5 billion spent each year.

There are troubling signs that the apprenticeship market is not working as intended. Many employers are not paying their share towards training costs, the payments made to providers do not always reflect the costs of delivering training, and apprenticeships are concentrated in a small number of areas.

We will want to know how the Department is making sure it targets its resources towards those areas and qualifications that have the most impact on the economy.

There is also a question mark over the quality of some apprenticeships. Around one-fifth are completed in less than 6 months, compared with the expectation that most apprenticeships will last between one and four years. The Department must ensure that these short apprenticeships give apprentices enough time to develop their skills and do not cut corners.

It is worrying that the proportion of apprenticeships at the advanced level, equivalent to two A-levels, remains lower than in other countries. In France 60% of apprenticeships are at this level, compared to just 33% in England. These advanced apprenticeships are usually much better for both employers and apprentices, and we will want to know what the Department is doing to increase them.

These issues must be addressed if good value for money is to be achieved.

The report is avilable to read on the National Audit Office website.

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