The government is introducing new measures to improve the quality of apprenticeships, it has been revealed this week.

The reforms, aimed at raising training standards, were announced by the skills minister John Hayes during a parliamentary debate earlier in the week.

The National Apprenticeship Scheme (NAS), run by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, will closely monitor providers to ensure that training is meeting expectations, and may withdraw funding from schemes that are not up to scratch.

Under the new measures all apprenticeships for 16 to 18-year-olds will be required to run for at least one year to allow for sufficient learning and implementation of skills.

“If the standards are sufficiently stretching and the expectations of competence high, I believe that a course should naturally extend over at least 12 months,” Mr Hayes said.

However, Gordon Marsden, shadow minister for further education, skills and lifelong learning, has expressed concern that the new plans do not do enough to provide for older apprentices.

Speaking to FE Week the MP said, “I would have thought it would have made more sense to have considered the age range of 16 to 24 as a whole, because the issues which arise around 16 to 18 year-olds and abuse also arises around abuse around 19 to 24 year-olds.”

While the current reforms do not promote inclusion in the workplace for older learners, the NAS does have plans to reconsider the minimum length of apprenticeship delivery for those over the age of 18.

Following the decision last month to introduce incentives for smaller firms, the new reforms will also go further to encourage small and medium-sized companies to hire apprentices.

The plans aim to reduce the time it takes to set up a scheme and will remove some of the additional health and safety requirements that are not part of overall health and safety legislation.