New figures show the number of people starting apprenticeships in the South-East has fallen by 8,750 under the present Government.
LABOUR CLAIM that the quality of apprenticeships is being undermined, with a government report finding that 21 per cent of apprentices are receiving no training, while 15 per cent are not receiving the appropriate minimum wage they are due, rising to 24 per cent for 16 to 18-year-olds on level 2 and level 3 apprenticeships.
New figures show that 93 per cent of those aged 25 or older already worked for their employer before starting their apprenticeship, suggesting that many existing training programmes for people already in work are simply being rebadged as apprenticeships.
Nancy Platts, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven, said: “This Conservative/Lib Dem government is letting young people down at every turn. The number of those living in Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven who are starting apprenticeships has dropped by 160 over the last year. Many young people are already telling me they are being trapped in a cycle of low-paid, insecure work and zero-hours contracts, making it a struggle to live independently, and this drop in apprenticeships makes matters worse. They need high-quality training opportunities that lead to real jobs.”
The next Labour government promises to use government procurement to create thousands of new apprenticeship opportunities, so that suppliers on major public projects will need to offer new apprenticeship places. Labour will act to safeguard apprenticeship quality by ensuring new standards so that all apprenticeships last a minimum of two years and include a day a week of off-the-job training.
Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna MP, said: “To grow the number of high-skilled, better-paid jobs we need more apprenticeship opportunities – particularly for our young people. But despite David Cameron’s claims, we are seeing the numbers of apprenticeships falling and worryingly there’s been a significant drop in apprenticeship starts for young people.
“We’ve also witnessed the historic apprenticeship brand being tarnished, as training for employees who are already in work has been rebadged under the apprenticeship label. As a result, we’ve seen a huge spike in over-60s taking apprenticeships while the number of young people taking apprenticeships has fallen.
“Under Labour’s plans, we would use government procurement to create thousands of new opportunities and would act to ensure all apprenticeships are of high quality and provide a route to a more highly-skilled job.”
Simon Kirby, Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven, responded saying: “This Government is committed to apprenticeships, recognising the immense value of the opportunities they provide to the people seeking to boost their skills and experience. Since 2010, over 2 million young people have started an apprenticeship in England, including some 2,700 apprenticeships undertaken in Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven.
“In 2013-2014 alone the Government spent £1.55 billion on apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are now available in over 170 industries including aerospace, fashion, broadcast media and finance.
“86% of apprentices stay in employment after finishing their apprenticeship and 83% said their ability to do the job and their career prospects had improved as a result of undertaking an apprenticeship.
“It is no coincidence that, at the same time as this government has championed and supported apprenticeships, youth unemployment has fallen dramatically. This fall in youth unemployment is great news, particularly for young people here in Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven.”
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