NATIONAL apprenticeships week is a time to celebrate this excellent opportunity for young people, and the work businesses do to help. I myself started my career as an apprentice, and I owe a lot to the opportunities I was given. But it is also a time for the government to reflect on how this career path can be significantly improved.
Employer-led training – such as apprenticeships – is the most effective way of meeting our growing skills gap. They can be an effective way of readying young people for the world of work.
But importantly apprenticeships offer a highly rewarding and meaningful alternative to high education.
I left school at 16. Eventually, I secured an apprenticeship as a technician which was a big deal for me then and still is now. At that time, a young father in my early twenties, I still had to do three jobs to help my family make ends meet. I know the importance of skills and the meaning of vocation. I want other young men and women to get the same opportunities to progress in the world of work that I have had.
The Government have tried to raise the profile of apprenticeships, for example through a new levy designed to help a range of businesses take-on more apprentices.
The Government’s Apprenticeships Levy is right at heart, but it has been criticised for being inflexible and skewed in favour of London. Meanwhile other cities, and worse-still our towns, do not reap the full benefits. Labour supports the apprenticeship levy, but will take steps to ensure that every apprenticeship is of a high quality and that opportunities are available in areas that need them the most.
Most of all, Labour will:
- Protect the £440 million funding for apprenticeships for small-and medium-sized employers who don’t pay the levy
- Give employers more flexibility in how the levy is deployed, including allowing the levy to be used for pre-apprenticeship programmes
- Set a target to double the number of completed apprenticeships at NVQ level 3 by 2022.
- Set targets to increase apprenticeships for people with disabilities, care leavers and veterans, and ensure broad representation of women, LGBT, and people with disabilities in all kinds of apprenticeships
Want to find out more? Read my recent article on adult skills, training and education.