Association of Employment and Learning Providers press release
Embargoed until Thursday, 21 September 2017 at 00.01hrs
Threat to social mobility posed by government’s own apprenticeship reforms
The government is in serious danger of undermining its own social mobility agenda unless it acts quickly to address significant bias in its apprenticeship reform programme and provide a boost to the number of traineeships available to young people.
In a major policy submission published by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), training providers report that employers are reducing recruitment young apprentices aged under 19 and at lower rungs of the apprenticeship ladder before they can progress upwards. In fact official government data revealed last week that only 15% of apprentices taken on since May of this year have been aged 16 to 18.
This is because the new levy funding system for apprenticeships has generated a perverse set of incentives which encourage employers to focus their programmes on adults and at management level instead. But they also result in adults being given fewer opportunities in lower level apprenticeships to improve their skills.
The AELP paper says that people from disadvantaged backgrounds are let down by provision for improving their English and maths within an apprenticeship being funded at only half the classroom rate.
Many small businesses are resisting engagement in the apprenticeship programme since the new regime required them to make cash contributions towards the cost of the training and assessment, while employers of all sizes are frustrated with a new rule requiring that the off-the-job training within an apprenticeship must take up at least 20% of normal working hours. These include NHS Trusts and commercial companies who say that they can’t afford to lose ‘productive’ workers for so long.
Despite positive comments from ministers and the Social Mobility Commission about its effectiveness, the government seems reluctant to commit the necessary funding to remove the shackles from the traineeship programme which places many young people often from the so-called NEET group in apprenticeships or sustainable employment.
AELP has therefore presented in its submission 14 issues that need to be addressed if the obstacles to social mobility are to be removed.
AELP CEO Mark Dawe said:
‘The message came out from Downing Street over the summer that social mobility was still the number one priority for the government after securing a good deal for Brexit. Education ministers therefore need to get a firm grip on the apprenticeship reforms to stop a potential haemorrhaging of young talent missing out on opportunities that employers were previously willing to offer. The adult workforce needs apprenticeships too for business to meet the skills challenge.
‘No big shake of the money tree is required to get these reforms on track but ministers do need to conduct a major reappraisal of where their priorities lie with apprenticeships if they are signed up to the Prime Minister’s agenda.’
The 14 points for the government to address are:
AELP submission on social mobility can be downloaded here.
Contact Aidan Relf on 07710 305182