NIACE welcomes NAO’s adult apprenticeship statement

1 February 2012

NIACE welcomes the statement made by the National Audit Office on Wednesday 1 February 2011, that ‘Apprenticeships for adults offer a good return for the public money spent on them overall’.

David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:

“The increase in adult apprenticeships is great news. NIACE is pleased that the National Audit Office confirms the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ view of there being a public value of adult apprenticeships and endorses their prioritisation. The Government has been ambitious with this apprenticeship programme and the National Audit Office report illustrates that such ambition is well-placed.”

“The high growth in adult apprenticeships since 2006/07 shows the substantial latent demand for training is encouraging for both our economy and society. While the return on the Government’s investment is good (for every £1 of public investment there’s an £18 return), there is also a significant return for both the employer and the apprentice. Our research shows that for many adults an apprenticeship gives them a fresh start, helps them prove to themselves that they are not failures, and it also helps develop their confidence and energy at work, home and in the community. The return on investment is far wider than the direct economic benefits.”

“However, we need to strike a balance between the returns for Government, employers & individuals – these should direct the targeting of provision and we should not take a simplistic sectoral approach based on economic returns alone. The National Audit Office is right to highlight the issue of levels of training and NIACE believes there should be more incentives for progression onto higher level apprenticeships.”

“The Government is to be congratulated on its ambition and leadership, but now is the time for providers and employers to show their accountability to local communities. Our forthcoming policy position paper More, Different, Better Apprenticeships will outline how an approach that focuses on the needs of apprentices, alongside small as well as larger employers, and local economic growth will drive excellence in the system. Experience has shown that the first stages of growth are easiest to manage; the second stage brings in challenges around quality and equality that can only seriously be addressed through listening to the voice of current and potential apprentices themselves. NIACE also believes that a more diverse employer-base will lead to greater participation from those groups less likely to get on to apprenticeship programmes and benefit from this significant Government investment in workplace training.”