Youth scheme fails to deliver

September 17, 1999

Two-thirds of the 16 to 18-year-olds on the government's much-heralded modern apprenticeships are failing, official figures reveal.

Just 32 per cent of the 130,000 young people who have left modern apprenticeship programmes since they were launched in 1995 have gained the intended qualification - a national vocational qualification at level three, the equivalent of an A level.

The achievement rate, quietly revealed through the Office for National Statistics this month, is far lower than the 77 per cent average achievement rate among 16 to 18-year-olds in colleges, and lower than the much criticised 64 per cent achievement rate for those in colleges over 19 sitting level-three qualifications.

John Brennan, director of policy development at the Association of Colleges, said: "Clearly the low levels of achievement and retention raise a lot of questions about the quality of the programmes being delivered, the quality of the advice and guidance systems and the value for money of the scheme."

The Modern Apprenticeships cost about Pounds 430 million a year, paid by government direct to Training and Enterprise Councils. By late February, 260,000 had started an apprenticeship.

The figures will be the source of embarrassment to ministers, who support the scheme despite inheriting it from the Conservatives.

Dr Brennan said: "The project has not been a success. It doesn't compare with programmes in colleges and schools."

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Employment said that the 32 per cent qualification rate was an improvement from just 24 per cent 12 months ago. The success rates were low because many students were "whisked into jobs" before reaching the accreditation stage.

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