Latest Public Sector News

07.11.13

Apprenticeship policy ‘failing’ young people

Apprenticeships in the UK need fundamental reform to ensure they are helping young people transition from education into work, according to a new report.

The Work Foundation has published ‘The road less travelled?’, which highlights that just 6% of 16 to 18-year-olds were enrolled in an apprenticeship programme in 2011. The rise in apprenticeship take-up has been dominated by participants aged over 25, with 71% being existing employees.

Demand amongst young people currently outstrips the supply of apprenticeships, the report found, and calls for a greater number of employers engaged in the system to offer more quality places.

Recommendations include improve the pathways into apprenticeships through improved careers advice and guidance; better promotion and regulation around apprenticeship pay; increased employer engagement through better links with schools; and improving the educational content of apprenticeships.

Report author Katy Jones said: “Youth unemployment has been rising since the early 2000s and has remained at around one million for some time now. A coherent apprenticeship policy would go a long way in helping to tackle this crisis. But apprenticeship policy is currently in flux and has, so far, failed to take account of the long-term shift towards a service economy.

“There must be clearer guidance around the national apprenticeship wage – for both employers and apprentices – especially in sectors such as social care, where a relatively high proportion of apprentices are paid below the legal minimum. Employers who do not meet this should be sanctioned, and recognise that the minimum wage provides a minimum floor. Where possible employers should be encouraged to pay apprentices more.

“The limited representation of service industries in the government’s Trailblazer pilots is a missed opportunity to develop pathways into higher quality service occupations, particularly given that services account for 85% of overall UK employment. Government has also lowered the minimum training requirement for 30% off-the-job training to just 20%.”

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