NAO second report into levy reforms a ‘shame’, says apprenticeships minister

Today’s National Audit Office report into apprenticeships is a “shame” because it only reflects on the past and doesn’t account for policy that will make a difference in the future, the apprenticeships minister has said.

Anne Milton spoke with FE Week’s editor Nick Linford this morning during a visit to the University of East London where she met with apprentices to hear how the programme is helping their careers, in the middle of National Apprenticeship Week.

The interview also came just hours after the NAO published its apprenticeship progress report, which raised various concerns including a “risk” that the programme is not financially sustainable after the average cost of training an apprentice hit double what the government predicted.

But Milton didn’t find the report to be of great value.

“It is always a shame when these reports come out because I think they have an important part to play in the development of government policy but by their very nature they are looking back rather than forward,” she said.

“I read the NAO report in quite a lot of detail and I don’t think it accounts for the changes that we are clearly seeing. I’ve seen all through apprenticeship week the changes that we are going to be able to measure six months from now.

“It doesn’t always, I think, give an accurate picture of what we are going to be seeing in six months’ time.”

You can read the main findings from the NAO’s report here.

Today’s event at the UEL was used by the minister to celebrate the university’s apprentices, who are training in sectors ranging from nursing and teaching to civil engineering and digital and technology solutions.

Lauren, an apprentice nursing associate with UEL, told FE Week the apprenticeship is helping her progress in her position from a healthcare assistant to a nursing associate at Queen’s Hospital in Essex.

“The reason why I’m doing this is because it will help me progress further in my career path to become a registered nurse,” she said.

“I won’t be left with any debt and I can pay my bills as well, it’s helping me live and it’s absolutely wonderful I can do this as a mature student.”

 

William is also at UEL, training to be a civil engineer.

“I’m doing a six year course working at Blue Engineering working on live projects,” he told FE Week.

“The benefit is not only being in no debt but also getting paid full time and learning on the job.”

Read the full ‘Editor Asks’ interview in the next edition of FE Week this Friday.

Main picture caption: Skills minister Anne Milton (centre left) with nursing associate apprentices and Jane Perry, UEL’s director of strategy and external engagement (right)