The body which represents 800 training providers who train 7 out of 10 apprentices in England and supply the vast majority of traineeships has responded positively to the chancellor’s Budget boosts for skills.
Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Jane Hickie said:
“The boost for traineeships so soon after last July’s investment is exactly the type of support that young people need to secure a job opportunity as we emerge from lockdown.
“With the continued shelter offered by the furlough scheme, employers and training providers can work closely together to take full advantage of the incentives. Furlough also keeps thousands of existing apprentices in jobs who otherwise might have been at risk of redundancy.
“The extension of the apprenticeship financial incentives until the end of September could be a game-changer and the increase in the incentives should prove to be particularly attractive to smaller businesses who have traditionally offered apprenticeship opportunities to young people. The incentives now subsidise over half the cost of employing an apprentice at entry level which is what AELP has been calling for since the start of the first lockdown.
“However, there is a case for channelling increased apprenticeship support towards 16 to 24 year olds only, because that is where the support is really needed and where the stimulus is required.”
The extra £126m for traineeships follows the £111m announced for the programme in last July’s Plan for Jobs. AELP welcomed this at the time but the roll-out for it was very slow after a much delayed procurement for provision for 19 to 24 year olds. The government also wanted to expand the number of providers supplying traineeships for 16 to 18 year olds but we haven’t heard any more about this. In the meantime current 16-18 traineeship providers can apply for more funding.
Jane Hickie added,
“Independent training providers are keen to jump out of the blocks in finding more employers willing to offer apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities. Matters aren’t helped however by the government not offering covid testing kits to young people eager to grab them. Unless they can go to a community testing centre (and most 16-18 year olds can’t drive), young apprentices and trainees may to have to wait until April.”
The number of people of all ages on an apprenticeship programme was 511,000 in August-October 2020. New programme starts in that period were 91,000 – a drop of 27.6% compared with the year before.