House of Lords committee is calling for single government department to take charge of National Apprenticeship Service

A House of Lords committee has called for the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) to become directly responsible to a single government department, rather than split between two as it is currently.

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee put forward the idea in its follow up report to last year’s ‘Apprenticeship: A key route to skill’. Responsibility for the NAS is shared between the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

The original report called for a single minister to be directly responsible for apprentice provision and the committee reasserted that position in its follow-up report.

Lord Vallance, chairman of the Lords Economic Affairs Committee, said: "We are pleased the government is now taking steps to improve apprenticeship provision in the UK. For too long apprenticeships have been undervalued and inadequately supported by government and we hope this will now change.

The best way to do this would be to pay fees directly to those firms rather than through bureaucratic quangos

"However we are disappointed that the new National Apprenticeship Service will not be directly accountable to a single minister. We feel this is vital to ensure that the political will and pressure to make the scheme a success is maintained.”

The committee has also called for the NAS to be given responsibility for contacting employers and encouraging them to offer apprenticeship schemes, and for funding for apprenticeships to be paid directly to employers.

"More should be done to encourage small and medium business to offer apprenticeships,” Lord Vallance said. “The best way to do this would be to pay fees directly to those firms rather than through bureaucratic quangos. We are disappointed the government have not taken this recommendation forward."