Education and Skills Impact Framework (ESIF) - modern apprenticeships provision: contextual summary report 2022

This analysis uses longitudinal education outcomes data to estimate labour market outcomes and returns to investment associated with post-school qualifications. A technical report describes the methodology and findings in detail. This summary report covers modern apprenticeships.

Purpose and Rationale

This publication aims to summarise and provide context to the results of the Education and Skills Impact Framework (ESIF), designed to provide an estimate of the impact of education and skills in Scotland.

Specialist economic and policy consultants London Economics were commissioned by the Scottish Government’s Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board to analyse the Return on Investment (ROI) associated with post-16 education and training in Scotland. Using the Scottish Longitudinal Educational Outcomes (LEO) data, they estimated the labour market outcomes associated with higher education (HE) qualifications, further education (FE) qualifications, and Modern Apprenticeships (MAs). Combining this labour market analysis with information on the associated costs to the individual, the Exchequer, and the employer (for MAs only), they estimate the Return on Investment to each qualification. The methodological approach was independently reviewed by independent, academic experts at the outset and during the project.

The full technical report produced by London Economics describes the methodology and findings in detail. To complement this, three summary contextual reports have been produced, covering Modern Apprenticeships, College and University qualifications. This report focuses on Modern Apprenticeships.


The Education and Skills Impact Framework (ESIF) was conceived by the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board in 2019 to develop a robust evidence base that could help inform investment in post-school education and skills to enable a skills system that maximises both the return to public investment and the benefits to individual learners and employers.

The key driver behind this was the lack of comprehensive, consistent evidence on impact and ROI in the post-compulsory education and skills system in Scotland. It was also referenced in 2 key documents:

Scottish Government Enterprise and Skills Review (2017)

“This will be achieved through better collaboration on intelligence across the enterprise and skills agencies, helping to identify the most effective interventions to support productivity improvements – including improving the evidence base on return on investment.”

Scottish Government 15-24 Learner Journey Review (2018), where the Scottish Government committed to improving the measurement of the return from investment in education and training.

“Taking all this work forward will require strong joint leadership and the right evidence base so that we act on evidence of outcomes and return on investment to ensure we continue to invest in the right qualifications and right types of learning.”

The ESIF programme of work was agreed by CEOs of Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) in January 2019 and noted that:

“Producing impact measures is not a simple task. But it is important ... Generating up-to-date impact estimates on this investment would:

  • ensure that public sector investment in post-school education and skills investment in Scotland is informed by robust evidence of impact
  • support individuals to make informed career choices
  • inform employer investment and recruitment behaviour”

To facilitate this, two complementary workstreams were developed within the ESIF programme: Economic Impact, and Social and Wellbeing Impact. This report focuses on the findings from the Economic Impact workstream.

About Modern Apprenticeships

ESIF looks at 3 pathways: college, university and Modern Apprenticeships (MAs). As stated earlier, this report focuses on MAs. Key points of context to note for MAs are below.

  • Learning descriptor: Modern Apprenticeships are a form of work-based learning where the aim is to develop competence in a job role. A modern apprentice is employed and works towards a qualification with a learning provider or college. Funding and allocations for MAs are prioritised towards people who are 16 to 24 although there is no upper age limit. These requirements are set out in a framework document which is designed on the basis of industry consultation and national occupational standards.
  • Policy Objective: MAs contribute to a variety of Scottish Government policies including the Young Person’s Guarantee, which are reflected in SDS’ Strategic Plan for 2019-22. One of the goals of the Strategic Plan is that “all people in Scotland have the skills, information and opportunities to succeed in the labour market”. To achieve this goal, SDS will:
    • Provide effective learning pathways into productive employment
    • Ensure work-based learning is efficient, responsive and future-focused
  • Qualification range: There are 17 Occupational Groupings and 103 MA frameworks (listed on Appendix 1). MAs cover a range of SCQF Levels from 5 to 11. MA qualification levels were previously categorised as VQ (rather than SCQF) during the time period which the data relates to, hence these are used in this report.



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