A Select Committee report published on July 20th wants to see more people taking up apprenticeships as a means of entering the world of employment. But the low number of apprentices is just one of the UK’s skills issues.
The government wants to see 500,000 a year people taking up apprenticeships, which is double the current number, in order to address a “serious and longstanding failure” to improve vocational education.
The Committee also questioned the quality of some apprenticeship schemes especially in the service sector and controversially suggested that all government money should be directed to employers as an incentive for them to offer schemes in the first place.
The number of poorly qualified young people entering the workforce is complemented by large numbers of adults that do not have any skills and consequently the government has set a target for 90% of all adults to have at least the equivalent of 5 GCSEs at grade A to C (NVQ Level2) by 2020. This level of achievement is the so-called “passport to employment”
The government will pay the bill for anyone under 25 who hasn’t reached this standard.
Lord Sandy Leitch produced a review in 2006 which made it clear that Britain’s lack of skilled workers would make it very difficult for the UK to compete in the modern world. Coupled with this there is growing concern that too many UK school leavers are going nowhere and about 10% of them are not engaged in further education, employment or training (NEET).
Countries with well developed apprenticeship schemes e.g. Germany, find the transition for education to work much easier that the UK and are able to make apprentices productive in a shorter time span.
The Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership will be looking at the issues of skills and NEETs in the Brighton & Hove workforce at its meeting in October.
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