BIS announces apprenticeship rise

Posted on 31 Jan 2012 by The Manufacturer

New numbers from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills shows a 63.5% increase in apprenticeship placements in the academic year 2010-2011.

Figures released today by BIS reveal that 457,200 apprenticeship starts were made in the academic year for 2010-2011 – 63.5% up on the previous year.

The statistics show that all sectors, regions and age groups for apprentices increased, though success rates for apprenticeship are still slightly behind other forms of government funded further education.

There is now a 76.4% success rate for UK apprenticeships – an increase of 2.6% on the academic year 2009-2010. This compares with an 81.1% success rate for Education and Training Level 3 qualifications, an 81.5% success rate for the same qualifications at Level 2. Education and Training Skills for Life qualifications now have a 78.7% success rate.

Commenting on the statistics Skills Minister John Hayes said: “Clarity of policy, strength of commitment and certainty of purpose has delivered record numbers of apprenticeship starts, outstanding success rates and growth across all sectors.”

The results released today will make a triumphant start to National Apprenticeship Week next week.

Commenting on the quality of Apprenticeship provision now available in the UK Mr Hayes said: “My relentless commitment to quality has become a hallmark of delivery in Government. I’ll now go further to drive up standards, ensuring that quality always matches quantity.”

Despite Mr Hayes protestations of quality and confidence in UK apprenticeship however, there are many in the manufacturing sector who still feel that provision is not employer led and that national frameworks often fail to provide meaningful benefits to businesses.

There is also a common feeling among smaller employers that the administrative burden of supporting an apprenticeship programme is too onerous.

Sector skills councils Semta and Cogent have been working to tackle these problems in collaboration with the National Apprenticeship Service. As Semta CEO, Philip Whiteman expressed it to TM, “it is our job to ‘hide the wiring’ of apprenticeships.”

Addressing the issue of bureaucracy in apprenticeship frameworks Mr Hayes commented: “A zero tolerance approach to unnecessary red tape, and new financial incentives for small firms will enable more employers to offer gold standard training to match and beat our international competitors.”

Examples of this kind of support are a £1500 incentive for firms of up to 50 (and sometimes 250) employees to take on apprentice trainees. I addition to this incentive a further £2275 incentive to small firms who employ a jobless 18-24 year old for at least 6 months is expected to help tackle the UK’s unemployment levels. Both of these incentives are expected to be available from April this year.