From education to employment

Young people left ‘struggling’ following EMA funding cuts

A report released this week by the charity Barnardo’s has described the Government’s decision to scrap the Education Maintenance Allowance as leaving many young people struggling to cope.

The ‘Staying the course: disadvantaged young people’s experiences in the first term of the 16-19 Bursary Fund‘ report described the decision to cut EMA as leaving the poorest young people “struggling to continue with the education and training they need.”

The report also highlighted the insufficiency of replacement bursaries such as the 16-19 Bursary Fund. This replacement fund was deemed as “insufficient to meet the support needs of those in poverty and for this reason, the Fund fails to target the most vulnerable as claimed by the Government.”

Labour’s Shadow Minister for Young People, Karen Buck MP, said that the report highlighted the lack of support for young people that want to stay on in education until the age of 18 or 19, which is reflected by the fact that half of colleges have seen a reduction in the number of students applying for courses.

She said: “Barnardo’s report contains many stories of young people struggling to make ends meet who are being discouraged from taking up education opportunities.

“The analysis shows this is down to lack of funding and the fact the Government are failing to target those who need support most. The Government’s is kicking away opportunities for the next generation.”

NUS Vice-President (Further Education) Toni Pearce said:

“This is a damning indictment of the decision to scrap EMA and the botched attempt to replace it.

“The government flew in the face of expert opinion and a mass of evidence all of which said the EMA should stay and then rushed to replace it without any proper planning and woefully inadequate funding.”

The report comes during National Apprenticeship Week – aimed at raising the profile of apprenticeships among employers, young people and the wider public.

The fifth year of Apprenticeship Week comes at a time when youth unemployment stands at 1.027 million – the highest since comparable records began in 1992.

Despite the number of apprenticeships for those aged 25 and over increasing in the first three months of this academic year compared to the same period last year, apprenticeship starts for 16 to 18 year olds during the same period dropped by 1500.

Labour’s Shadow Minister for Further Education, Skills and Regional Growth, Gordon Marsden MP, said:

“With over one million young people out of work, it is clear the Government needs to do more to help firms create the apprenticeship opportunities young people desperately need.”

“That’s why we’re calling on them to do more to help smaller businesses take on apprentices and to deliver more apprenticeship places through the billions of pounds which the government spends on procurement.”

Linsey Humphries

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