New Government Apprenticeship Figures Published

First published on Tue, October 16, 2012.

New statistics published by the Government reveal that the number of adult learners participating in government-funded further education declined by 11% between the 2009/10 and 2010/11 academic years. The number obtaining a qualification in this same time period declined by 12%.

Meanwhile, the number of adult learners starting apprenticeships increased by 63.5% between 2009/10 and 2010/11. However, over 44% of these new starts are over 25, and there has been a 10% decline in the number of 16 to 18-year-olds who started apprenticeships in the final quarter of the last academic year. These are worrying statistics given that more than one in five young people are currently unemployed. Despite endorsing the recommendations of The Holt Review of Apprenticeships, which examines ways in which SMEs can be encouraged to provide apprenticeships for young people, the Government has been criticized for failing to convince SMEs to offer training for school leavers.

Concern has also been expressed that rising apprenticeship numbers do not necessarily tell the full story, as the term ‘apprenticeship’ is often applied to short courses which do not provide high quality, comprehensive training and do not equip learners with new skills. See, for example, this article by Tess Lanning for IPPR.

Workplace skills training for adults has fallen by also fallen by 275,400 places, raising the possibility that employers have simply shifted those already in employment into apprenticeships in order to draw down government funding earmarked for apprenticeships.

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