The UK government has announced a target to rapidly increase the number of apprenticeships available to young people, but will this rush compromise the quality of the training?
A Rise in Apprenticeships to Meet Growing Demand
The government has announced a new target to create three million apprenticeships – an extra 600,000 apprentices a year. It is also imposing a levy on employers to fund this growing target. It is hoped that this levy, which will come into place in April 2017, would raise £2.8billion by 2019-2020.
In its press release ‘Target of 3 million apprenticeships and new funding system risk poor value for money’, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has hit back at the plans.
An increasing number of apprenticeships has long been on the to-do list for UK government, however new plans to rapidly increase the number of schemes available risks training becoming ‘poor value for money’ says the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
In its report, the IFS has warned the government has ‘failed to make a convincing case for such a large and rapid expansion in apprenticeships’ and claims plans are ‘wildly optimistic’.
Despite The Department for Education claiming standards are ‘rigorously checked’, the IFS has said that this could devalue the ‘brand’ apprenticeships have, making it ‘just another term for training’. The IFS states that the quality of apprenticeships may become diluted as other types of training are reclassified as apprenticeships in order to boost figures.
Lastly, the IFS report says this could create, "considerable risks to the efficient use of public money" and that the levy could result in wages being lowered for all workers in order to account for the new additional costs.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said:
"Quality is at the heart of all of our apprenticeship reforms.
"We have introduced new apprenticeship standards which are developed by employers themselves and rigorously checked and taken steps to protect the term apprenticeship from misuse helping us to achieve our target of three million apprenticeship starts by 2020 and providing excellent value for money."
Despite the reassurance, Labour's Shadow Skills Minister, Gordon Marsden, said:
"Rushing to hit a three million target without sorting out the quality or increasing the proportion of apprenticeships under the age of 25 means they risk failing to deliver the long-term skills strategy we need."
What’s the Answer?
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