Headlines: March 21st, 2016

The drive to produce greater opportunities for apprenticeships is providing neither the quantity nor quality expected. This is the conclusion of Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.

While apprenticeship starts for the over 25s increased by 17% between 2010-2014 for the under 25s the increase was only 4%. In comparison to the over 25 increase there were some 5,000 fewer apprenticeship starts by under-19s in 2014/15 compared to 2010/11.

The Commission also found weaknesses in the quality of apprenticeships because most apprentices were studying at levels below their age. Almost 68% of A-level age apprentices were studying apprenticeships at GCSE-level and 98% of degree-age apprentices were studying at A-level equivalent or lower.

The Commission also highlighted how many youth apprenticeship starts were in sectors associated with lower pay and prospects for progress, such as hairdressing.

The Commission welcomed the government’s efforts to improve the number and quality of apprenticeships, but called for improvements.

Commission chairman Alan Milburn 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 flatlined 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.”

A government spokesman said an extra £25m had been allocated for recruiting 16 to 18-year-olds into apprenticeships to support the government’s pledge to deliver three million apprentices by 2020.

“Apprenticeships give school leavers the opportunity to gain the skills they need to get on,”