NIACE calls for urgent action on apprenticeships
Government should apply a 'write off' of loans for an advanced apprenticeship
Urgent action is needed now on apprenticeships following the publication of the latest figures which show that there have been only 77 applications for loans for advanced and higher-level apprenticeships compared to an expected figure for the year (2013/14) of around 25,000.
That's according to The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) who have urged the Government to act quickly and to consider three priority actions:
1. Government should apply a 'write off' of loans for an advanced apprenticeship for those going on to a higher apprenticeship as currently happens for those starting a degree following an access course;
2. Government should consider incentives, in the form of subsidies, for those under-represented groups to encourage wider participation in apprenticeships; and
3. Government should hold a round-table with employers, providers and learners to discuss new actions to increase the numbers taking up apprenticeships.
David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said: "This looks like a policy that' s broken and we're keen to work with Government, employers, providers and learners to put it right. Along with others we have been concerned about how loans would work in financing apprenticeships and have repeatedly called for Government to take specific action to ensure that advanced and higher apprenticeships remain a viable option for adults aged 24 and over.
"What's clear is that we need to be doing all we can to ensure that more people see apprenticeships as a route worth investing in to a sustained and fulfilling career. Our economy is crying out for people with these levels of skills and experience and adults deserve the chance to learn and progress at work.
"There is a lot of debate about how to give vocational education parity of esteem with higher education. One simple, but effective way, to achieve this would be any loan taken out for an advanced-level apprenticeship would be written off for anyone going on to a higher-level apprenticeship. This is currently the case for any loan secured for an access to HE course once people start a degree-level course."
He added: "What's crucial now is a greater range of flexible and creative measures are implemented to encourage more adults and employers to both recognise the benefits of advanced and higher apprenticeships and to have the opportunities to make the most of them. This is something the country simply cannot afford to ignore."
A BIS spokesperson said: "We are closely monitoring the take up of these loans and will continue to do so. We recognise that under the loans system where we have had over 35,000 applications in total, the current figures for apprenticeships are low. However, apprenticeships do not typically start with the academic year so can start throughout the year."
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