From education to employment

Don’t let Kickstart wage subsidies displace potential new apprenticeship opportunities

Jane Hickie, Managing Director, Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP)

@AELPUK backs Centre for Social Justice (@CSJthinktank) seminal report “TRADE SECRETS – How to reboot apprenticeships and kick-start the recovery”

‘Potentially seminal report on Apprenticeships from Centre for Social Justice should be acted upon immediately’, say apprentice training providers.

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) strongly supports many of the recommendations in today’s Centre for Social Justice report on apprenticeships.

In the current circumstances, the calls for more support for SME apprentice employers and to incentivise more opportunities for young people are especially pertinent.

This is potentially a seminal piece of work in the context of apprenticeships, playing a key role in supporting the economic recovery and their importance being recognised in the forthcoming white paper on further education and skills.

The Centre for Social Justice is absolutely right to talk up how vital it is for the government to support starter level (level 2) apprenticeships when the immediate prospects for young people look so bleak.  This is not just about funding although the government should be doing something about the pitiful rate of funding available for adult social care worker apprenticeships; it is also about being more responsive to the demands of employers in the public and private sectors who can’t understand for example why there is no longer a level 2 apprenticeship available for business administration.

The pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for this year’s school-leavers and AELP strongly supports the CSJ’s recommendation that the government should go back to fully funding the apprenticeships of 16 to 18 year olds out of its mainstream budgets instead of relying on the levy. 

The Levy System Has Failed SMEs

Until the lockdown, the levy system was failing to meet the demand for apprenticeships from small and medium sized businesses who have traditionally offered the majority of opportunities to young people at the lower levels and therefore the report has correctly highlighted the need for ministers to show a greater commitment in restoring some balance within the funding system.

Prior to the Chancellor’s summer statement, AELP argued for a wage subsidy for 16 to 24 year old apprentices as part of the post-pandemic response and we are now very concerned that the wage subsidies available under Kickstart will displace potential new apprenticeship opportunities.  We are naturally pleased then that the CSJ has thrown its weight behind the call.

The report isn’t just about social justice for young people, it demonstrates the value of apprenticeships in terms of improving the UK’s woeful track-record in productivity by citing research which shows that three-quarters of apprentice employers say that the programme has increased their business’s productivity.  We therefore support the CSJ’s recommendation that we must get much more savvy on how we measure improvements on a regular basis.

AELP urges the government to act quickly on many of the CSJ’s recommendations.  We owe it to the young people looking for a better future.

Jane Hickie, Managing Director, Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP)

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