More cash for apprenticeships

The Learning and Skills Council has announced an increase in funding for the apprenticeship programme, but will withhold funds from employers in an effort to raise completion rates.

More than 255,000 young people are taking part in the scheme and the budget has been increased from £1,037m for 2004-5 to £1,105m for 2005-6 to cater for the increase.

But Learning and Skills Council said it will withhold 25% of the National Vocational Qualification funding in 2005-6. It will only be paid when young people complete their apprenticeship framework (their full training programme)

The council said this would create a clear incentive for providers to improve their achievement rates. Recent figures show 82% of construction students fail to complete their government-sponsored apprenticeships.

Mark Haysom, Learning and Skills Council chief executive, said he believed that the plans provide the right conditions to maintain the growth in apprenticeship numbers and ensure that more apprentices complete their programmes.

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