Concern over quality of apprenticeships

Money raised through the apprenticeship levy is not being spent as intended by employers, according to Ofsted. Many employers became apprenticeship providers following theintroduction of the levy in 2017, in order to administer their own schemes and optimise funding opportunities.

Concerns have been raised about the quality of apprenticeship schemes, highlighting “early warning signs of a dilution of quality”, with monitoring visits by inspectors finding common issues around poor governance, low-quality teaching and insufficient off-the-job training. This is claimed to be have been worsened by lack of governance and scrutiny.

Last year the government pulled its funding from the largest UK adult learning provider, Learndirect, following an Ofstedreport that found 70%of apprentices trained with the company failed to meet minimum standards required for their course. The firm had received apprenticeship contracts worth £158m.

The report found level 2 apprenticeship starts had declined by more than a fifth since last year.

Separately, a report from the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) has predicted an overspend in the apprenticeships budget of £500m by the end of the 2018/19 financial year. While the sum set aside for 2018/19 was £2.25bn, IfAreportedly predicted £2.75bn would be spent. The shortfall was said to be the result of excessive per-start spending on expensive management apprenticeships.

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