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Work-based learning, training and skills

IER has an established track record in researching Apprenticeships, workplace learning and training. Our research in this field is focused around:

  • Apprenticeship training and comparative research on vocational education and training
  • Costs and benefits of training
  • Training and organisational performance
  • Institutional arrangements for the delivery of work-based learning and training across the EU

A major feature of IER work in this area has been the assessment of the costs and benefits of investment in training and apprenticeships, including an evaluation of the impact of skills development and training on organisational performance, recruitment and retention, and the economic contribution of investing in skills development and training. Since the mid-1990s, IER has undertaken the Net Costs of Training series, which has estimated the net cost to the employer of providing Apprenticeship and other forms of work-based learning . These studies have estimated the overall contribution of the employer and the State of providing training through apprenticeships and provided an indication of the time taken by employers to recoup their investment in this type of training. As well as estimating the net costs and benefits of training, IER work has also looked at the rationales that guide individuals and employers to engage in initial vocational training and education of various types. In particular, this has looked at the policies and institutional structures to deliver initial vocational education and training across the EU with a view to understanding what mixes work best in different labour market settings.

There are a variety of options available to employers and learners when deciding to invest in vocational education and training. IER has undertaken evaluation studies, which compare, from an economic perspective, different approaches to the delivery of training and the returns they confer on employers and learners. IER has substantial experience in the analysis of apprenticeship training and comparative research on vocational education and training both in the UK and throughout the European Union (EU). Over the recent past, apprenticeships systems across the UK and European Union have been subject to reform with respect to: whether a sufficient number of young people are entering apprenticeships; and whether current systems are suitably aligned to the future needs of the economy.



Recent selected projects

  • Additionality in Apprenticeships and Work Based Learning, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2012-13) More Details
  • Advanced and Higher Level Apprenticeship Study in Worcestershire, Worcestershire County Council (2013) More Details
  • Review of the economic benefits of training and qualifications, Deparment for Business, Innovation and Skills (2012) More Details
  • Study on employment policy priorities including development of a methodological capacity to strengthen employment dimension of the EU 2020 agenda, European Commission More Details
  • Review of Apprenticeship Research, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2012 - 2013) More Details
  • Economic and social benefit of vocational, education training and analysis of skills mismatch, Cedefop (2009-2011) More Details
  • Apprenticeships: Evaluation Surveys of Employers and Individuals, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2011) More Details
  • Employer Investment in Apprenticeships and Work-Based Learning, Skills Funding Agency (2011 - 2012) More Details
  • Evaluation of apprenticeships in Telefonica, Telefonica (12/12/2011 - 31/10/2012) More Details
  • Best Practice Approaches to the Development of Intermediate Level Skills and the Role of Apprenticeships, Economix Research & Consulting (2010 - 2011) More Details
  • Options Study for the Long Term Evaluation of Apprenticeships, Skills Funding Agency (2010 - 2011) More Details
  • Assessing the Impact of Apprenticeship Training Delivered to Bus Drivers, Transport for London (2010 - 2011) More Details
  • Employers' Business Case for Recruiting Apprentices, Apprentice Task Force (2005) More Details

Key contacts

Peter Dickinson

Chris Warhurst

Sally Wright

Stef Poole

Apprenticeships and Skills Commentary

Apprenticeships & Gender -

just the statistics

In their latest research note, Lynn Gambin and Terence Hogarth provide an overview of participation in Apprenticeships by gender, highlighting differences between men and women and how these may factor into observed differences in the labour market more widely, especially the gender pay gap.

Download: Apprenticeships and Gender: Just the statistics

app and gender 

Previous commentaries from Gambin and Hogarth are also available to download:
More Apprenticeships anybody? considers the difficulties faced by policy makers in the UK over many decades who have sought to increase participation levels in Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships and the Levy Proposed in the Summer 2015 Budget: whys & wherefores examines the Apprenticeship Levy announced in the Summer Budget 2015