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Call for evidence on apprenticeships

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Things have been very busy at the What Works Centre over the past couple of months. We’ve recently published our review on Access to Finance and are putting final touches to our findings around the impact of R&D on local economic growth. We are also currently drawing together our findings on what works with regard to estate renewal. We are in the middle of reading papers relating to a new review on the impact of high speed internet on local economic growth, and are searching for evidence surrounding the topic of transport interventions and projects. More information on all of these will be available shortly; all have elicited some interesting findings which will greatly inform the work of LEPs and local authorities across UK.

On that note, we are really excited about the next topic we will be looking at – apprenticeships. In this review, we want to find out what impact apprenticeships are having on boosting economic growth for the individual, the business and the local area. This is a hot topic in the UK today, with a rise in popularity of apprenticeships across a variety of businesses and sectors. We want to find out if this growth is accompanied by a similar boost to the local economy, and to those partaking in apprenticeships, both the businesses and the apprentices themselves.

The review will look for evidence around large and small-scale mechanisms and subsidies designed to encourage firms to employ apprentices, as well as evaluations which consider the impacts of apprenticeship schemes themselves. It will aim to investigate whether impact differs across industries and sectors, as well as analysing the effects of duration, entry-level and target age-group of apprenticeship on scheme effectiveness.

From an initial review, we expect for much of the evidence to focus on labour market outcomes of apprentices, and the impact of apprenticeships upon employment and wages for the user. In addition, a considerable amount has been written on the prevalence of “poaching” and whether or not apprentices stay with the firm they train at (retention vs. attrition).

We are about to undertake a thorough search of all the evidence we can find on this topic, and would like to hear from you with any suggestions or recommendations. This call for evidence seeks to find any research that you might know of surrounding economic impact evaluations which focus on apprenticeships or trainees in the workplace. We are particularly seeking research which uses counterfactual analysis (apprenticeships vs. no apprenticeships) as well as using before-and-after comparisons. Initial research suggests that much existing research relies on descriptive statistics or cross-sectional regressions rather than the robust impact evaluation methods we assess as part of our reviews. Therefore any suggestions you have for evidence surrounding the topic of apprenticeships will be highly valued.

The best way to get in touch is via email or twitter. Or leave us a comment below, and we’ll be in touch. The deadline for submitting evidence is 12 December 2014. We look forward to receiving your suggestions.