The Government’s apprenticeship recruitment target of 203,200 for the financial year to March 2011 was exceeded by 54,000, John Hayes, Minister for FE, announced last week.

Particularly striking has been the volume of those apprentices aged 25 and over who started in the first three quarters of this academic year (August 2010 to April 2011).  Provisional data published by the BIS Data Service shows that these starts have increased by 234 per cent to 121,100. So far this year 37 per cent of all starts have been for the 25+ age group (17 per cent for the same period last year). Further analysis of the published figures shows that 33,750 starts (up from 9,810 last year) are for people aged 45-59 (now 10 per cent of all starts, up from 4 per cent last year), and 2,930 aged 60+ (400 last year).

Gordon Marsden MP, Shadow Minister for FE and skills told FE Week; “These figures show the largest increase coming in the post 25 category – most dramatically in 35-59. This must raise questions of how much that increase is simply transfers from Train to Gain, or people already in employment.”

Professor Alison Wolf, an advisor to Government on 14-19 vocational learning told FE Week: “Providers have been saying for some time that, if they are going to make their apprenticeship targets fast, it will be by targeting adults. The recent figures bear this out, which is bad news for youth unemployment.”

Marsden agrees, he said: “What we do know is that the modest increase in the 16-18 cohort won’t be enough to address the deepening crisis around youth unemployment.

“What’s more, if these numbers have been swelled through transfers from Train to Gain, could they also be subject to the same deadweight questions that Train to Gain attracted?”

The employment sectors seeing the greatest number of additional apprenticeship starts, according to the BIS Data Service, have occurred in framework areas that might not be considered ‘traditional’ apprenticeship, such as retail. For more on this see the Morrisons story.

The Guardian has since reported on the issue and you can see our update here.

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  1. Dave Hall

    Of course Adult apprenticeships are being used to fill the gap that Train to Gain left. The altermnative would be that many training organisations built up on Train to Gain funding, would cease to exist.
    The value of this movement must be considered at least debatable. Delivery of appreniceships is very different and more in depth that a simple NVQ and we must be prepared for success levels to drop.
    Would the vast amount of money currently being spent on “Adult Apprenticeships” be better spent assisting employers to employ 16 -18 year olds? This would reduce youth unemployment, tackle the inevitable future skills shortages before they exist, and ensure higher levels of productivity within a short period of time.
    Or we can continue to spend millions upskilling existing workforces.

  2. Anth Mills

    Adult Apprenticeships are certainly Train to Gain under a new name, the problem now is that not only are Adults walking round with NVQ Qualifications they have achieved in a very short space of time. They now have “Technical” qualifications and numeracy and literacy qualifications that have been achieved in the same manner.

    With regards moving the funding to encourage employers to employ a 16-18 year old. Why not re-instate the PLA or the Young Apprenticeship, which will give the youngsters a chance to experience working in a particular sector before they commit to a lengthy apprenticeship and soon decide it is not their prefered vocation.

    Either that or continue to pump out adults qualified as apprentices to make the figures look good!!!!

  3. Sue Bishop

    I couldn’t agree more with the above – training providers are definitely using the Apprenticeship route to plug the gap left now we have no Train to Gain contracts. If we didn’t, we would all be out of business. However, it should be recognised that the reason that employers staff take a shorter time to complete all aspects of the Apprenticeship is that in many cases they’ve been doing the job for some time, unlike the 16-18 year olds, and have the motivation to get a meaningful qualification, whereas the school leavers often struggle to come to terms with simply going to work, let alone working towards several qualifications at once! The reason that there were no 25+ starts in 2005/2006 is because training providers in the main didn’t have an adult apprenticeship contract !!