Lizzie Crowley, skills adviser at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said:

“The NAO report rightly calls into question the long-term financial stability of the apprenticeship programme and if it’s providing value for money for the taxpayer, and the right outcomes for businesses and individuals.

“As a result of introducing apprenticeship standards, there has been a welcome increase in the number of higher-level apprenticeships. But this has also meant that some levy paying employers are now rebadging a range of expensive professional development training schemes, such as accountancy and management, as an apprenticeship. This undermines the ambition of the programme to increase overall employer investment in training, as employers can claim funding for schemes which previously they would have paid for out of their own pocket.

"To address this problem, the Government needs to monitor these apprenticeship standards more closely to ensure they are more than just professional training. The Government should also look to tighten up its scrutiny of off-the-job training. This is an integral part of any apprenticeship, but the NAO’s report shows the Government doesn’t have enough oversight in this area.

“It’s vital that apprenticeships deliver the right outcomes for individuals, businesses and the overall economy. We must ensure that the right programmes are in place to help people enter the workforce and go on to acquire new skills throughout their working lives.” 

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