Responding to the recent figures from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) indicating that Apprenticeships are more successful than ever, spokespeople from both the LSC and the Association of Learning Providers (ALP) have expressed their pleasure at the news.
The report, based on figures from Work Based Learning Providers and Colleges, shows that during the academic year of 2004 / 2005, some 67,000 learners achieved their Apprenticeship Framework Certificate, an increase of 15,000 on the preceding year. A record number of young people (aged 16 "“ 21) have started their Apprenticeship programme in this period, and the 176,900 new Apprentices beats the Public Service Agreement (PSA) target of 28 % (176,500).
Completion rates are higher than ever, with the statistics showing that more apprentices are completing the entire Apprenticeship programme - 39% of all leavers completed the course this year compared with just 31% in 2003/04. Additionally, 51% of all leavers gain at least an NVQ qualification. This is expected to be one point on a steady graph of improvement. In 2002 / 2003, 43,149 young people completed their Apprenticeships. It is hoped that the completion rate will be increased by 75% to 75,511 young people completing their Apprenticeships by 2007 / 2008.
Stephen Gardner Sees Bigger Picture
The Director of Work Based Learning for the LSC, Stephen Gardner, welcomed the news and saw it as part of a bigger picture: "The achievement of the starts target is not just great news for young people and employers, but also the wider UK economy, as Apprenticeships are vital to combating existing skill shortages and ensuring we have a future workforce to match our global competitors.
"When the target was set in 2001, 137,000 16-21 year olds started on an Apprenticeship for the first time. Meeting the target today means that 40,000 more young people are gaining the skills they need for their future and many are earning a wage too.
"The combination of more young people starting Apprenticeships and a rapidly improving achievement rate is a tremendous step in the right direction," he continued. "Although we still have more to do to further increase the number of young people successfully completing Apprenticeships, the figures to date for 2005/06 show that the improvement trend is continuing."
Graham Hoyle Sees Key to Workforce Success
Mr. Gardner also recognised the work of the frontline providers in the FE sector, saying: "We are most grateful to the training providers and colleges for their contribution to achieving the target and driving up quality of training to make Apprenticeships more appealing to young people and employers than ever before."
Graham Hoyle, the Chief Executive of the ALP, also welcomed the news, and sees it as a promising sign that all those involved on both sides of learning and training are seeing the benefits of Apprenticeships. He said: "Seeing 176,900 new young people choosing the Apprenticeship route, demonstrates the high regard that more and more young people, and their parents, have for Apprenticeships."
He continued: "They see it as the route to a successful working life. An increasing number are fully completing the Apprenticeship and it will be important to carry on driving up this figure if we are to fully develop the skills that the nation needs to stay globally competitive."
How can the LSC and ALP work closer than ever for more achievements in the future? Tell us in the FE Blog"