By Marcus Leach
An 11-month review has concluded that the government's apprenticeships programme requires urgent reform.
The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee's report into apprenticeships is urging schemes to be more ambitious, a view supported by the Confederation of British Industry.
The MP's report states that standards need to be improved and schemes need to be better monitored in order to provide the skills needed to boost economic growth.
"The apprenticeship programme can play a key role in resolving some of this country's most pressing issues," the chairman of the BIS Committee, Adrian Bailey, said.
Skills minister Matthew Hancock welcomed the committee's report, as well as stating he will give it due consideration in order to make the programme more successful.
"Apprenticeships are vital for equipping people with the skills they need to prosper, and the nation with the workforce we need to compete in the global race," he said.
"Over a million people have started an apprenticeship since 2010, right across the economy.
"So I welcome this timely and thorough investigation into apprenticeships, and will consider carefully its suggestions to help make the programme even more successful."
Last year the government invested £1.2bn in the apprenticeship programme, with 457,200 people starting training as an apprentice. However, the report concludes that there is room for improvement and recommends a number of reforms, including a clearer government policy on the purpose and goal of apprenticeships, as well as closer monitoring of their funding and effectiveness.
"Apprenticeships are a viable and attractive route to a career and should be seen as equal to the university route", said Mr Bailey.
Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment & Skills, stressed the importance of apprenticeships.
“Apprenticeships are vital to raising skill levels in our economy, and supporting people into sustainable careers," he said.
"The Committee is right to say the Government should prioritise apprenticeships, and make them about delivering high-quality training, not just about high numbers.
“But the way to achieve these aims is not to heap further red tape onto businesses, as the Committee seems to suggest. Too many businesses are already turned-off by the scale of compliance required to get involved.
“Instead, we need a clear definition of the quality standard that apprenticeships should reach. And businesses need the Government to trust them to deliver apprenticeships, by giving them more control over the funding and content of courses. Too much of the current system delivers what the Government will fund, rather than what businesses need.”
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