In response to a written request from the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, the National Apprenticeship Service has reported that the proportion of achievers who have completed apprenticeships under 6 months with the 13 training providers and colleges whose provision has given rise to significant concern under the current SFA/NAS quality review, accounted for only 3.7% of total completers within the overall apprenticeship programme in 2010-11.
Following on from his recent comments on the muddying of linked apprenticeship issues and a yet to be identified real need for minimum training periods for apprentices aged 19 and over, AELP chief executive Graham Hoyle responded to this latest highly significant piece of data by saying:
"In its ten year existence, AELP has always championed the improvement of service and delivery among providers and therefore we support the comprehensive review being undertaken by the NAS and the Skills Funding Agency. Nevertheless, it is encouraging that this latest hard data supports what the NAS Chief Executive told the Public Accounts Committee in the Commons on 7 March, namely that in relation to such a major programme where something in the region of 750,000 young people and adults are improving their skills, we are talking about a comparatively small problem. This suggests that some of the media commentary has been overblown and certainly disproportionate.
"AELP continues to work closely with the agencies to try and eliminate any potential elements in the apprenticeship frameworks that might lead to poor practice. We believe that any further policy changes should encourage high quality provision but they should also be made in a considered way that reflects the interests of employers and learners."
Picking up on Mr Hoyle’s point about the current total apprenticeship cohort being close to 750,000, a figure that has not been challenged, AELP would argue that if it were possible to produce an accurate calculation of ‘problem provision’ that pulled in apprentice starts and those still in training, the percentage would be even smaller than 3.7%.
In AELP’s view, this would strengthen the case still further for a proportionate response policy-wise.