The National Audit Office (NAO) report on ‘Delivering value through the apprenticeships programme’ was released today. The report examines whether the Department for Education can demonstrate that the increasingly employer-led apprenticeships programme is achieving value for money.
The Department for Education needs to chart and follow a course from having a lot of apprenticeships to having the right apprenticeships in order to help improve the UK’s productivity, and achieve value for money, in return for the costs of the programme.
Sir Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 6 September 2016
Defining the programme’s aims and measuring success
- There is not yet a clear rationale for how apprenticeships fit into the wider plan for productivity and growth.
- The Department has not defined what ‘success’ will look like in the reformed programme such as how it is impacting on skills levels, addressing skill gaps, or improving achievement rates.
- Different apprenticeships offer significantly different benefits.
Improving the quality of individual apprenticeships
- More work needs to be done in raising awareness of the new apprenticeship standards.
- Some employers and industry representative groups are concerned that the approach is leading to a large number of narrow and overlapping standards, which may restrict the extent to which apprentices gain transferable skills.
- In a recent survey, 86% of employers said they were satisfied with the training given but at the same time one in three Level 2 and Level 3 apprentices claimed to be unaware of any formal training.
- Ofsted reports suggest that around a fifth of training providers need to improve the quality of their training and the results they achieve.
Managing risks to apprenticeship quality and value
- The DfE has not yet established what information it will need to monitor key behaviour risks and spot signals that these risks may be maturing.
- Set out the planned overall impact on productivity and growth, along with short-term key performance indicators to measure the programme’s success.
- Ensure that the timescale for further development of Trailblazer standards remains realistic, and is well communicated to employers and providers.
- Improve the way that it handles key risks, interdependencies and contingencies across the various elements of the programme.
- Do more to understand how employers, training providers and assessment bodies may respond to ongoing reforms, and develop robust ways of reacting quickly should instances of market abuse emerge.
- Determine the respective roles of government bodies and the Institute for Apprenticeships, with particular regard to: overseeing the quality of apprenticeship training; and collecting and analysing relevant data and metrics.
Read the full report here.