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UCU response to National Audit Office report on apprenticeships

5 September 2016 | last updated: 19 September 2016

UCU said today the government plans to expand the numbers of apprenticeships are at risk of failing unless high-quality schemes are established quickly. The union, responding to a report from the National Audit Office, said that colleges had a vital role to play in setting high standards for the apprenticeship expansion.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Much has been made of the government's plans to expand apprenticeships, with ministers often quoting the bold target of 3 million. However, 3 million genuine apprenticeship opportunities will not magically appear just because the government says they will. The NAO is right to focus on quality of apprenticeships and how we can ensure that programmes work for both students and employers.

'The government's expansion plan will be at risk of failing unless it establishes high-quality programmes quickly. Colleges have a crucial role to play as established providers of high-quality education and training. We have to avoid the unfortunate scandals of private for-profit firms ripping off the taxpayer that we have seen in higher education.

'After years of redundancies, worsening terms and conditions, falling pay and rocketing workloads, we need action from government to ensure that those who are best placed to deliver high-quality apprenticeships - college staff - have the resources to do it.'