Apprenticeship review is launched by government

Job Centre Plus queue Apprenticeship schemes were criticised recently by a committee of MPs for delivering "no real benefit"

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The government has launched a review of apprenticeships in England.

It says it is conducting the review to ensure the schemes deliver the training and skills employers need.

It will be led by entrepreneur Doug Richard and will also aim to spell out what makes a high-quality apprenticeship.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said "vocational youngsters had been let down by weak courses", and the schemes needed to adapt.

"To build a prosperous economy we need a skilled workforce," he said.

"The apprenticeship programme has been a real success, not only boosting chances for young people, but also helping businesses to address their skills gaps.

"However, in the past, vocational youngsters have been let down by weak courses and our competitors have stolen a march."

He said he had just returned from a visit to Germany where two-thirds of young people take some form of apprenticeship by the time they are 25.

'No real benefit'

Last month, a parliamentary committee questioned the length and quality of many apprenticeships.

The Committee of Public Accounts said that a fifth of the schemes last six months or less and were of "no real benefit".

But it also praised the increase in apprenticeships, which quadrupled in number in the four years to 2011.

In 2011, the government spent £1bn in England to create more than 450,000 apprenticeships, which was a 63% rise on the number the previous year.

In April, Skills Minister John Hayes said that all apprenticeships must now last a minimum of 12 months.

Scottish claims

The review announcement comes a day after Scottish Labour accused the Scottish government of "massaging" the number of apprenticeships.

Kezia Dugdale, Labour's youth employment spokeswoman, said four out of 10 young people offered places last year had already been working for more than six months.

But government agency, Skills Development Scotland, said an apprentice did not always start their training as soon as they started with an employer.

Reasons for this delay could be college term times being some months off or the employer wishing to ensure the trainee would provide a return on their significant investment.

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