MPs have called for more employers to offer Apprenticeships so that England can catch up with similar programmes in other countries.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) study hails the success of adult Apprenticeships, which have quadrupled in number of places in only four years. It is a programme driven by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The number of adults completing their Apprenticeship has also increased, up from one third to more than three quarters in the six years up until 2010/11.
However, PAC chair Margaret Hodge would like to see more employers in the scheme and has called for an assessment of whether greater economic benefit would result from targeting particular industry sectors.
“Many employers still see Apprenticeships as a cost rather than an investment,” said Hodge. “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.”
Hodge has called for the Department to “understand better which Apprenticeships in which sectors deliver the best value for money” and has raised concerns about the 20% of Apprenticeships finished in less than six months as she feels they are “of no real benefit” and could “devalue the programme”.
The bulk of Apprenticeships last between one and four years. The Skills Minister recently announced that adult Apprenticeships would last a minimum of six months and normally at least 12 months.
For each £1 of public money, the NAO has estimated an economic return of £18.