In Gordon Brown’s 2004 statement on Apprenticeships he announced that development work would commence on a new Adult Apprenticeship, for those aged over 25.
An initial £1 million of funding allowed 7 regions to participate in pilot programmes, which commenced in January 2005 working with three Sector Skills Councils - SEMTA, CITB-Construction Skills and Skills for Health.
The initial cohorts amounted to 450 learners.
Since then, the number of Adult Apprenticeship places has steadily increased, with £16.7 million of funding allocated for 2006/07, £25 million in 2007/8 and £30 million in 2008/9.
In June 2010 the coalition Government showed its commitment to Apprenticeship training with Vince Cable announcing that funding would be provided for an additional 50,000 apprentice places. The Government also announced an additional £150 million of funding for Adult Apprenticeships, which would be made available to small and medium-sized enterprises. This money was being transferred from the Train to Gain budget, which was being axed.
Provisional data showed that there were a total of 257,000 Adult Apprenticeship starts that had been delivered between April 2010 and March 2011. There has been a huge growth in the number of those over the age of 19 undertaking an Apprenticeship. Between 2009/10 and 2012/13 the number of those aged up to 19 is expected to grow by about 30% (from 186,000 to 240,000) but in the same period, Adult Apprenticeships are expected to more than double (from 305,000 to 650,000).
The current (2012) position is that Adult Apprenticeships will be funded at up to 50% of the cost of the training, the employer paying the difference, but this is under review.
On 1 September 2011, Dr. Stephen Farry, Minister for Employment and Learning stated:
“I have decided that, rather than discontinue funding for adult apprenticeships, we will continue to fund all adults in all skill areas from the end of September 2011 and expect this to be delivered within 50% of the current budget.
“Adults generally complete their apprenticeship training more quickly than their younger counterparts, suggesting a difference in the training needs of the experienced worker as opposed to those entering the labour market for the first time.
“This is an interim position to allow a review to be completed which will inform the future policy and funding arrangements for adult learning, including adult apprenticeships. The review is currently underway and my intention is to establish a final policy and funding position during 2012-2013.”