LAST month the Apprenticeships Achievement Tables were released, providing the opportunity to compare and contrast local colleges and providers.
These tables not only show the latest rates for 2015-16, but also offer a chance to reflect on trends over the preceding years.
With the Government pressing for millions of new apprentices, much attention has been focused on the quality coming out of providers.
“In my opinion, the achievement of an apprenticeship programme must remain the priority for the employer and the learner,” said West Berkshire Training Consortium managing director Matt Garvey.
“In my 18 years in the sector I have only worked with employers who planned for, and anticipated, a successful outcome to their apprenticeship programme.
“It is common sense.
“Why would you invest the time and money unless you were looking for a return in terms of a productive and happy apprenticeship programme?
“Consequently, these tables are really important for separating the wheat from the chaff.”
For 2015-16 the Education and Skills Funding Agency amended its calculation process to omit some loopholes which had inflated achievement rates with some colleges and providers.
This activity was applied retrospectively and meant that the national achievement rate for apprenticeships remained at around 67 per cent for the last three years.
The recently-released data tables show that more than 29,000 apprentices enrolled nationally with colleges and providers offering achievement rates at 50 per cent or below.
Given that these have been paid for by the tax payer, it brings up the question of value for money.
Mr Garvey said: “I personally believe that a national achievement rate of 67 per cent is a disgrace.
“To tell an employer engaging three apprentices that one of them will fail is pretty embarrassing for the sector.
“Thankfully, within this picture are some much better providers and colleges delivering true high-quality apprenticeship programmes.
“Quality begins and ends with a programme that not only has inspirational training but which stretches the apprentice to fully achieve.
“Consequently I am delighted that 85 per cent of apprentices fully completed their programmes with WBTC with a further 80 per cent going on to secure promotion, added responsibility or higher learning with their employer.”
The table below compares some colleges and providers over the latest and preceding years who work in this area.
While the method of counting years 2012-15 were different to 2015-16, the rates shown are like-for-like between each institution.
The table looks at all apprenticeships at all ages and data for some institutions was not available.
Mr Garvey said: “This snapshot provides some evidence for the provision in our area, although employer-providers are excluded.
“With a national average of 67 per cent, it is easy to see who is performing well.
“Buried in the disappointing national figures are some strong and successful apprentice providers working in partnership with excellent employers.
“We’ve just entered a new commercial age for apprenticeships with employers buying training and sometimes parting with huge sums of money.
“Employers can use this data to make informed decisions on their prospective training partner.
“As my first boss told me, ‘buy cheap – buy twice’.”
The full tables can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/ statistics/national-achievement-rates-tables-2015-to-2016