PAC recommends simpler approach

The Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons (PAC) has recommended that the government adopt a much simpler approach to the setting up of the new apprenticeship standards.

This echoes earlier calls from the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), which believes that without urgent action the government’s three million target for apprenticeship starts by 2020 is unachievable.

The cross party committee that oversees all government policy and spending plans identified the complexity of the process required to create and approve the employer led ‘Standard’ as an obstacle likely to derail government apprenticeship plans.

The PAC’s recommendation is: ‘The Department for Education (DfE) should streamline the process for devising, implementing and reviewing standards.’

The current process determines that to create a standard apprenticeship, a group of 10 employers must agree a draft plan for the apprenticeship. This has to be approved by the DfE and then the 10 employers must go away and develop it. This can take up to two years, based on existing new Standards. The DfE then has to approve that.

After that prospective end point assessment (EPA) bodies have to apply and to be approved by the DfE. There are currently not enough EPAs for the new standards based apprenticeships that are available now.

Steve Nash IMI CEO said, ‘The recommendation from the PAC for the government to simplify the new apprenticeship process is welcome. We can only hope the Minister is minded to listen. Whilst we have a number of new Standards under development there are only a couple which are actually finalised and this falls well short of meeting the broad requirements of our sector. It was originally predicted that 1,600 Standards would be in existence by 2017, but given the complexity and time taken to initiate and complete the process, the government have now moved this target out to 2020, so it’s clear that a slicker process is required.’