NIACE concerns about Apprenticeships loans confirmed

31 October 2013

NIACE is urging the Government to take swift action on Apprenticeships following the latest figures released which show a continued lack of applications for loans for Advanced and Higher-Level Apprenticeships. The latest figures show that there have been only 239 applications compared to the anticipated 25,000 figure for 2013/14.

David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:

“We are extremely concerned that this radical funding change has resulted in a massive shift in delivery. This shows how price-sensitive learners and employers are and the impact that has on choices people make about learning. So, while the take-up of loans for Access to HE courses is apparently strong, we have seen a complete collapse in Apprenticeships (24+ Level 3 and above) which are equally important for adults.This collapse in Apprenticeships for older workers matters to the success of our economy now and as growth returns; it also matters because Apprenticeships are a crucial route to social mobility for adults who missed out in learning earlier in their lives.

“This week the Government announced ambitious plans for the future of Apprenticeships, but these figures show that action is needed now to rescue the programme for adults over the age of 24. Only 239 people have applied for a loan to carry out an Apprenticeship against a target for this year of 25,000. Last year 112,000 adults over 24 benefitted from an Apprenticeship at Level 3 and above.

“It is imperative that Government, employers, providers and learners work together to get this policy right. NIACE is happy to play a role here as action is needed now. There has been widespread concern across the sector about how loans would work in financing Apprenticeships and we continue to call on Government to take specific action to ensure that more people see Apprenticeships as a route worth investing in as part of a sustained and fulfilling career.”

Last month NIACE called on the Government to consider three priority actions and is repeating that call today:

  1. Government should apply a ‘write off’ of loans for an Advanced Apprenticeship for those achieving a Higher-Level Apprenticeship, as currently happens for those completing a degree following an Access Course.
  2. Government should consider incentives, in the form of subsidies, for those under-represented groups to encourage wider participation in Apprenticeships.
  3. Government should hold a round-table with employers, providers and learners to discuss new actions to increase the numbers taking up Apprenticeships.

David Hughes ended:

“We believe that these three priority actions will encourage more adults, and employers, to recognise the benefits of Advanced and Higher-Level Apprenticeships. I would add one more action: to develop, with Apprentices in partnership with employers, unions and the Government, an Apprenticeship Charter setting out what an Apprentice can expect from their investment and showing how beneficial that would be for their career. A dynamic and effective Apprenticeship system is not only what individuals need but what employers want, what our economy is crying out for and a vital mechanism to support greater social mobility.”