The BBC is reporting that the government’s multi-billion pound apprenticeships scheme needs to be more strategically linked to its plans for economic growth.
The National Audit Office says the government’s plans for three million new apprenticeships in England by 2020 should be honed to meet skills gaps.
“The focus should be less on how many apprenticeships are created and more on which sector needs them,” it adds.
The report says the Department for Education (DfE), which was recently given overall responsibility for the apprenticeships programme, has not yet set out how the increase in apprenticeship numbers will lead to increased productivity. Presently, it relies on market mechanisms to attract the right apprenticeships to address skills gaps in the economy.
The DfE is “therefore not directly involved in deciding where, or at what level, apprenticeships take place”. For maximum benefit to the country, it adds, there needs to be “a clear rationale for how apprenticeships fit into the wider plan for productivity and growth”.
The report argues that “without this strategic underpinning, there is a clear risk that the drive to deliver greater numbers is delivered at the expense of delivering maximum value”.
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: “The Department for Education needs to chart and follow a course from having a lot of apprenticeships to having the right apprenticeships in order to help improve the UK’s productivity and achieve value for money, in return for the costs of the programme.”
Do you agree that apprenticeships need to be tailored to the areas where there are skills gaps? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie
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