The government’s top apprenticeships civil servant has hinted there will be a big drop in national achievement rates this year.
Peter Mucklow told FE Week’s Annual Apprenticeship Conference today that both the revised apprenticeship achievement rates for 2019/20 and the new rates for 2020/21 will be published imminently.
But he warned his department “will not be satisfied with those levels” when they are released.
Without revealing what the rates are expected to look like, Mucklow, the Department for Education’s director of apprenticeships, said: “We need to get those achievement rates up.
“Now I know there are good outcomes for people who leave apprenticeships without achieving their qualification. Nonetheless, achievement rates are already around the lower levels and that is something we cannot be satisfied with.”
Low achievement rates will have been impacted by Covid-19 but are also largely to blame for retention rates.
National achievement rate tables published last year showed that the overall rate for all apprenticeships fell slightly from 64.8 per cent in 2018/19 to 64.2 per cent in 2019/20.
But the retention rate for standards in 2018/19 was 48.3 per cent and in 2019/20 was 60.2 per cent. Former skills minister Gillian Keegan ordered an investigation into the “astonishingly” high drop-out rate last year.
Mucklow revealed today that error came about because he took his “best people” off the job owing to Covid.
‘We’re very satisfied this will not happen again’
“During the Covid period in terms of the quality assessment of data, there was an error. The reason for that error was because we put some of our best people who do the quality assessment and assurance year on year on other work in the department,” he said.
“We thought that was the right thing but we’ve since discovered that in the 2019/20 published data was incorrect. There was an error that was made. Obviously, that’s quite a serious thing. So as soon as we found that out we put that into the public domain.”
Asked whether he was confident this error would never happen again, Mucklow said “yes”.
“We’re very satisfied this will not happen again because we are putting the strongest possible quality assurance team to ensure that it doesn’t.”