20% of apprenticeships of ‘no real value’

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The Government has launched a review of apprenticeships in England to ensure schemes deliver the training and skills employers need.

It comes after a parliamentary committee questioned the length and quality of many apprenticeships last month.

The Committee of Public Accounts said a fifth of schemes last six months or less and were of ‘no real benefit’.

But it also praised the increase in apprenticeships, which quadrupled in number in the four years to 2011.

In 2011, the government spent £1bn in England to create more than 450,000 apprenticeships, a 63 per cent rise on the number the previous year.

In April, skills minister John Hayes said all apprenticeships must now last a minimum of 12 months.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said “vocational youngsters had been let down by weak courses”, and the schemes needed to adapt.

“To build a prosperous economy we need a skilled workforce,” he said.

“The apprenticeship programme has been a real success, not only boosting chances for young people, but also helping businesses to address their skills gaps.

“However, in the past, vocational youngsters have been let down by weak courses and our competitors have stolen a march.”

He said he had just returned from a visit to Germany where two-thirds of young people take some form of apprenticeship by the time they are 25.

The review will be led by entrepreneur Doug Richard and will also aim to spell out what makes a high-quality apprenticeship.