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Apprenticeships increase, but not for those who need it most

The number of apprenticeships has increased dramatically in the UK, new research shows – but many of them are only short-term positions.

Apprentices over the age of 25 have nearly quadrupled, from 36,000 to 121,000 this year, compared to the last academic year. Teenage apprenticeships also rose by 10%.

According to figures released in June, the Coalition exceeded its target of creating 203,200 apprenticeships for people over 19 in 2010-11, by creating 257,000 new apprentices. The work took place mainly in the health and social care, and retail sectors, and companies who hired the most included BT, Capita group and McDonalds.

A spokesman from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “As well as delivering the highest number of apprenticeships this country has ever seen, the Government has raised standards and enabled more apprentices to progress to higher levels.

“We have also set minimum guided learning hours to ensure that every apprenticeship delivers quality training. We are committed to further reducing bureaucracy to enable more firms from an even greater range of sectors to offer more apprenticeships."

However, Labour has conducted its own review of the statistics and concluded that a majority of these apprenticeships were short-term, and for people aged over 25, which does not tackle youth unemployment. Current figures suggest that there are around 917,000 people aged 16-24 who are out of work.

Gordon Marsden, shadow further education and skills minister said: “For all the government's warm words on apprenticeships, these statistics show they haven't got to grips with the task of supporting business and creating an environment in which quality, long-term apprenticeships can flourish and support economic growth.”

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