By Marcus Leach

A study commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has revealed further education participants generate an additional £75 billion for the economy over their lifetimes, with apprenticeships generating around £40 for each pound of Government investment.

The study examined the economic value generated by Government funded post-19 qualifications — including Apprenticeships, National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) undertaken in college and workplace settings and Basic Skills Qualifications. The estimates were calculated using data from the cohort of learners that started qualifications in 2008/09.

The key findings included:

- Further education participants that started a qualification in 2008/09 will generate an additional £75 billion for the economy over their working lives, over and above what they would have contributed if they had not achieved these qualifications.

- The benefits include increased wages and improved employment prospects for individuals, as well as benefits to employers stemming from increased productivity.

- An apprenticeship is found to add the most value on average, compared to other learning streams. The return on Government investment for apprenticeships works out at around £40 for each £1 of Government funding, when taken as an individual’s first qualification at that level.

“Further Education is a fundamental part of this Government’s growth strategy," Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, said.

"We have committed to funding at least 250,000 more adult apprentices over the next 4 years than the previous Government planned for, because we recognise that they offer real opportunities to young people and equip businesses with the trained workforce they need. We have also freed the sector from a number of unnecessary bureaucratic burdens so it can better respond to the needs of learners and businesses.

“This research adds further weight to our conviction that further education has a vital role to play in ensuring we have the skills that will build a stronger and more balanced economy."

John Hayes, Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, said:

“Further Education is the unheralded triumph of our education system. This research illustrates just how important it is to this country - our economy, society and individuals’ lives.

“That is why we are funding an unprecedented number of Apprenticeships and freeing colleges from unnecessary burdens. We are also helping employers, colleges and training providers to work together to boost skills through the £50m Growth and Innovation Fund.

“All these reforms will ensure that economic contribution of FE will continue to rise in the years to come.”