The education select committee has announced it is holding an inquiry into apprenticeships and traineeships for 16- to 19-year-olds, its last before the general election.
The cross-party group of MPs wants to find out how effective the government’s work-based learning programmes are; whether they meet the needs of employers and if they give young people what they need to find a job.
It also wants to know what impact the government’s recent funding changes have had on the programmes, and whether its investment represents good value for money.
The committee will also look at employer engagement with apprenticeships, what can be done to improve it and how to encourage more young people onto the programmes.
The inquiry was first mentioned earlier this month by Conservative MP Graham Stuart, chairman of the committee, who said it was time to focus on vocational education.
“This country has traditionally struggled to give vocational education anything like the status it has enjoyed in countries like Austria and Germany,” Mr Stuart told delegates at a summit in London.
Stewart Segal, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), said the committee has identified some key issues for policymakers to address before the general election.
“The Prime Minister has said that he wants school leavers during the next Parliament to have the choice of going to university or starting an apprenticeship and therefore it’s important that we engage more employers to offer more high quality apprenticeship opportunities for young people,” he said.
“We hope that the committee reviews the evidence from employers to ensure that the apprenticeship reforms are based on what businesses are saying.”
Mr Segal said AELP is also keen to give its views on how the Traineeship programme can be made more flexible.
But adult education body Niace said adult apprenticeships were also important.
Caroline Berry, head of learning for work at Niace, said: “It is the stage of a career that is crucial, not the age of the individual. Apprenticeships can make a significant difference at these stages, including when people move into their first job (at any age), when they are promoted into a new role requiring new skills and when they change career.”
She said traineeships also had “great potential”, but their impact could be greater.
The committee is inviting written evidence until 30 September.