Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Gillian Keegan said this week there are ‘no plans’ to extend the current apprenticeship incentives beyond their cut-off date on September 30.
In an exclusive interview as part of the All About Apprenticeships podcast from the HomeServe Foundation, the Minister said the incentives, which offered grants of up to £4,000 to SMEs taking on an apprentice, had a deliberate time limit in order to force employers to take on an apprentice now.
Speaking to broadcast journalist Georgie Frost, the Minister said:
“I don’t think there’s any plans at this moment [to extend incentives], I mean obviously we always keep these things under review. But these things are deliberately time-limited to create the incentive to force that decision really, to take on an apprentice now as opposed to waiting six months.”
The HomeServe Foundation, the registered charity of HomeServe Plc, is calling for the incentives to be extended to allow small businesses, particularly in the trades sector, to affordably train an apprentice to help fix the long-term skills shortage the industry is experiencing.
Speaking the day after bumper A level results announcement and record numbers of school leavers applying to university, she said she could understand the point of view of Peter Lampl the founder and CEO of the Sutton Trust, who earlier this week said too many teenagers were going to university.
She said: “Well it seems to have grown a lot in the last few years…I think if you look at the outcomes, and probably what he’s looking at is the outcome data … 34% of graduates are not in graduate jobs five years after graduating…That is what is worrying.”
The Minister pointed to careers advice in schools as an area that needed to adapt. She said the service in schools has not changed in line with what’s now available to include more vocational options and needs to get the stronger message out to A-level candidates that there is another route into employment and training that does not involve going down the university route.
She said: “What often strikes me is that they’re making a huge decision, what to study, which is about a £40K and £50K decision, at the age of 18, with very little experience.”
She added: “We need to build a stronger career offer for young people, but also for adults.”
Asked about the ‘turning point’ needed to accelerate the way degree apprenticeships, are viewed, the Minister said ‘availability’ was the biggest challenge.
“Availability is an important part of it and ‘broad availability’ around the country and in many different sectors. We do have something like 10,000 vacancies on the Find an Apprenticeship website right now, but finding the one you want, close to where you are, at the right level, is still something that we’re working on.”