From education to employment

Grants of at least £3000 for every young person on apprenticeship programme.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a further commitment to vocational training today, announcing new grants of at least £3,000 to assist those on apprenticeship programmes.

He also announced details of a new vacancy matching service similar to those that have already been trialed in the South West and South East. Working in a similar way to UCAS, the service will match young people up with businesses offering apprenticeships in their area.

“Every young person should know that they have something to aim for in their education.” Gordon Brown said. “So at age 18 or 19, each should graduate from school, college or an apprenticeship with good qualifications or an apprenticeship certificate. To drive aspirations up, we will ensure that all those reaching 18 or 19 who want to go onto an advanced apprenticeship or further education and training have the resources they need.”

He said that advanced apprentices will be able to apply for grants ranging from £3,000 to £15,000 for high skill apprenticeship such as engineering. The grants will be paid through a Skills Account to employers to meet the cost of training

Graham Hoyle, chief executive of ALP, told delegates at the ALP annual conference that today’s announcement “had real potential to enforce the importance of apprenticeships.” He added: “These are supportive words for apprenticeships from the PM today and we welcome that.”

Liberal Democrat Shadow Innovation, Universities and Skills Secretary, Sarah Teather MP said however that more was needed to be done in schools at a vocational level: “The Liberal Democrats have long called for increased support for both students and businesses engaged in apprenticeships. If we are to tackle the skills shortage it is vital that we bridge the vocational and academic divide in our education system.

“However, more work needs to be done to raise the status of vocational courses in our schools so that pupils are better equipped with the basic skills to become apprentices in the first place.”

The Prime Minister also said that the public sector needed to open up to more apprenticeships, including in Whitehall itself. He added that there would be a “legal duty” on the LSC to provide sufficient apprenticeship places in every area.

The announcement received a positive reaction from learners. Gemma Tumelty, NUS President said: “We welcome the Governments commitment to equalising financial provision for apprenticeships with that available to undergraduates. It is vital that those who could not otherwise afford to stay in education are supported, regardless of which educational route they take.”

Rosie Spowart

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