By Maximilian Clarke
Minister for Skills, John Hayes, has welcomed the findings of a National Audit Office (NAO) report into apprenticeships which praised the social and economic achievements of the UK’s apprenticeships programme.
"Unprecedented investment, backed by tough new measures to ensure that quality matches quantity, has helped make apprenticeships the gold standard vocational qualification,” spoke Hayes.
"So I am delighted that the NAO has recognised the progress we have made and that they identify the extraordinary economic benefits of apprenticeships. Few, if any, other government programmes produce anything like the return of £18 for every £1 spent let alone the still greater return that our economists estimate.
"It is also pleasing that the switch from Train To Gain to apprenticeships is recognised as having brought significant benefits.
“The report rightly identifies a need to prioritise investment where returns are greatest, and that is what the Government is doing. We will continue to drive improvement by developing new higher level apprenticeships, giving training providers more freedom to meet the needs of local businesses, reducing bureaucracy and making financial incentives available to small firms hiring their first apprentices."
Simon Waugh, Chief Executive of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) adds:
“The NAO report recognises the value and benefit of the Government’s continued investment in Apprenticeships and that the programme is well run. It also endorses the Government's decision to make Apprenticeships the flagship policy.
"The apprenticeship programme has seen strong growth in the 16-24 age range as well as the 25+ age group, with the fastest growth at Advanced Level. More employers than ever are using Apprenticeships to recruit new employees and to build skills in their business. The introduction from April of additional support for smaller employers recruiting an apprentice for the first time will make it easier for them to recruit young people.
“We are absolutely committed to ensuring that every Apprenticeship provides both the employer and the apprentice with a high quality experience which meets their needs. We are working with the Skills Funding Agency and other partners to raise the bar on quality, recognise excellence, and drive out poor performance; reducing unnecessary red-tape and bureaucracy for those who engage with the Apprenticeship programme.
“We will continue to strive to ensure that Apprenticeships represent the best value for money for the investment made in them by Government and by employers.”
The National Audit Office assessment shows that the apprenticeships programme continues to be highly valued by apprentices and businesses alike.
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