Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Skills Funding Agency, National Apprenticeship Service
Author: Great Britain: National Audit Office
Publisher: The Stationery Office
The Apprenticeship Programme expanded by 140 per cent between the 2006/07 and 2010/11 academic years. Apprentices aged over 25 account for 68 per cent of this increase. Most of the increase in the programme has been in just 10 apprenticeship occupations. Apprentices and inspectors are generally positive about the quality of apprenticeships, with 91 per cent of apprentices satisfied with their training; but the rapid expansion of the programme brings risks that need to be managed. One concern is that in 2010/11, 19 per cent (34,600) of apprenticeships lasted less than six months, when most are expected to last at least a year. Advanced apprenticeships yield higher returns than intermediate apprenticeships: spending on adult apprenticeships overall could be producing an economic return of £18 for every £1 of public spending. Most apprenticeships in England, though, are at a lower level than those offered by other countries. The Apprenticeship Programme is well coordinated and is better managed than a previous government programme, Train to Gain, for example by maintaining a central register of approved providers, with a single national contract and account manager for each. The rates paid to training providers by the Skills Funding Agency are not based on sufficiently robust information on the cost of the training provision, and so the Agency and National Apprenticeship Service do not know the extent to which providers may be earning surpluses or incurring losses on some types of apprenticeship. Furthermore, some employers are not paying the expected contribution towards training providers' costs.