Apprenticeships drive ‘failing to deliver’, Commission warns

The government’s drive on apprenticeships is ‘failing to deliver for young people’, according to a new report from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.

The report was released in response to the Commons Select Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy’s inquiry into apprenticeships, and warns that recent increases in apprenticeships are related to people over the age of 24, with the number of people under 24 starting apprenticeships showing little change since 2010.

The Commission welcomed the government’s efforts to improve the quality, as well as the number, of apprenticeships, but cautioned that a real focus must be placed on improving the quality of apprenticeships for young people.

According to the report, most youth apprenticeships do not represent a ‘step up’, with a large proportion of A-level age apprentices doing GCSE level apprenticeships, and almost all university age apprentices doing apprenticeships at A-level equivalent or lower.

The Commission recommends a UCAS-style gateway that would give young people better information regarding apprenticeships and future progression, and has also called for improvements to data transparency, specifically making it clear the age of people starting apprenticeships, as well as clearer data on completion rates.

Alan Milburn, the chair of the Commission, said: “The government is committed to giving all young people a chance to make something of their lives, but the current drive to increase the number of apprenticeships isn’t delivering for people under the age of 24. The number of young apprentices has flat-lined since 2010 and many of these apprenticeships don’t offer young people a foundation they can build on. The government needs to increase the quality of apprenticeships on offer to young people and make sure that every apprenticeship offers a genuine route to success.”