Some adult apprenticeships are of “no benefit” to the worker or the employer, a parliamentary watchdog has warned.
In a report published on Thursday, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) pointed to National Audit Office research, which found that economic returns on apprenticeship funding vary significantly across sectors.
But it warned that the government has made no attempt to prioritise its spending according to which types of apprenticeship yield the highest returns.
It added that the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) could not demonstrate that their funding rates were robustly based on the actual costs of delivery.
The Labour MP Margaret Hodge, the PAC’s chair, said: “If the service is to get better at targeting of resources, it needs to understand better which apprenticeships in which sectors deliver the best value for money.
“It doesn’t currently know what levels of profit the providers are making and whether it is paying them too much for some types of apprenticeship.”
The report also found that a fifth of the schemes lasted six months or less during 2010-2012.Hodge argued that these short apprenticeships have no real benefit and could “devalue” the programme.
The National Apprenticeships Service advises that they should last between one and four years. Last month, skills minister John Hayes said that all apprenticeships must now last a minimum of 12 months.
But the PAC also found that the number of adult apprenticeships had quadrupled in the four years to 2010-11. The proportion that successfully completed their apprenticeship also rose, to more than three quarters in 2010-11 compared with just a third six years before.
The report also called on the government to do more to promote the benefits of apprenticeships to employers and individuals, so that the programme can “catch up” with those of other countries.
The apprenticeship programme is administered by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, in partnership with the SFA and NAS.