By Max Clarke

Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning Minister John Hayes today announced new measures to guarantee the quality of the Government's flagship Apprenticeship programme, ensuring every apprenticeship delivers training that directly meets the needs of employers and learners.

The Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England, published today, will ensure that all apprenticeships deliver high quality, nationally-recognised qualifications relevant to the skill[b/], [b]trade or occupation of the learner and employer; that all apprenticeships offer individuals appropriate training to achieve a good standard of literacy and numeracy (and ICT where relevant to the skill, trade or occupation); and that every apprentice will receive at least 280 hours of guided learning per year.

Minister John Hayes said:

"Apprenticeships are at the heart of our skills strategy because they are valued by employers and sought after by learners. By enshrining these characteristics in statute we send a clear message to employers and learners that every Apprenticeship is a high quality investment in the skills they need for the future."

The Government will increase annual funding for adult Apprenticeships by up to £250m above the £398m a year funding inherited from the last Government, by 2014-15 and is reforming the programme to deliver 75,000 more apprenticeship places at advanced level and above.

Over 85,000 employers offer Apprenticeships. There are almost 200 job roles in which someone may be an apprentice; from digital media to electrical engineering; horticulture to accountancy. Those with a Level 2 (GCSE level) apprenticeship earn on average around £73,000 more over their lifetime than those with an equivalent level qualification or below; and people with an advanced apprenticeship around £105,000 more.