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The future of the Young Apprenticeship programme hangs in the balance

As 2010 drew to a close, not only had the Conservative Government’s Manifesto promised to create 20,000 additional apprenticeships across key sectors, but The Queen also recognised in her speech to the nation, the key role sport should play in our society.

It is therefore extremely disappointing that the Coalition Government is now stalling on its commitment to support the highly successful Young Apprenticeship programme, particularly the Sports Management, Leadership and Coaching programme in our sector.

In previous years the policy and process for future cohorts have been released 12 months before teaching begins. Following this model, Sector Skills Councils, SkillsActive included, should have been informed of the Government’s funding commitment in September 2010. This would allow time for the Young People’s Learning Agency to allocate funds to delivery partnerships, and for learners to be recruited ready to start the programme in September 2011. So far, the Government has not announced its commitment, so none of this essential process can be commenced.

Programme achievements

Launched in 2005, more than 2,000 14-16 year olds have successfully completed the programme, which is now delivered by over 70 partnerships across England. These young people have been given a fantastic opportunity to achieve a recognised, vocational qualification and gain work experience with key employers within our sector. With youth unemployment on the rise, this programme offers young people a much needed career pathway and also helps employers to source enthusiastic, skilled talent for their workforce.

Over the last five years, schools, colleges and employers have demonstrated incredible dedication, hard work and commitment to establish a hugely successful programme and these efforts are now, unfortunately, in danger of being lost to indecision and uncertainty.

Without an imminent decision from the Government this successful programme will be lost. As a result, young people will be denied an opportunity to prepare themselves for a highly competitive jobs market. Furthermore, employers will struggle to find qualified, motivated youngsters to fill positions that are absolutely crucial to the provision of high quality sport and leisure services.

On behalf of SkillsActive, I urge the Coalition to provide clear guidance on the future of the Young Apprenticeship programme and in doing so, to recognise the tremendous success the programme has achieved to date.

Stephen Studd is chief executive SkillsActive Group

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