It has long been an ambition of the training industry to allow more adult-learners to partake in apprenticeships. It appears that industry calls have been answered after the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS) announced that, from September 2013, apprentices over the age of 24 will be able to access student loans for level 3 training courses.

Electrical training company, Tradeskills4U, helped provide written evidence to the DBIS debate on apprenticeship funding. With the assistance of local Sussex MP's Francis Maude and Henry Smith, Tradeskills4U suggested that, as per degree students attending university, 24-year-old plus students taking 'apprenticeship vocational courses' should be able to secure a student loan to help pay for their courses. The DBIS committee published a report on February 23 that including this suggestion. As a result, from September 2013 apprenticeship vocational courses can now be financed by the student loan system, with payback of the loan only starting after an income of at least £21,000 has been achieved.

Tradeskills4U's Managing Director, Carl Bennett, said: “Whilst our contribution was only a small part of a much larger debate, this issue marks an important shift in the way FE students will be funded in the future and can only increase the quality of training in the FE industry and enable students to have more of a say in their training needs.”

Government has committed to increase the funding available for apprenticeships over the next 4 years, after it was determined that apprenticeships provide good value to the UK economy. The report also revealed that those qualified via apprenticeships, on average, earn 12 percent more than those without a level 3 qualification. It also highlighted that return on investment for Government spending on apprenticeships was very high, at least £18 for every £1 spent. A full copy of the report can be downloaded from here.