Friday, March 14, 2014

News: Rotherham MPs call for more action on apprenticeships

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The number of people starting an apprenticeship in Rotherham decreased from 3,410 in the 2011/12 academic year to 3,140 in 2012/13, with the number of young people under 19 starting apprenticeships nearly 19% lower.

The number of apprenticeship vacancies being advertised has increased but figures released by the Government's Skills Funding agency last month showed that nationally there were 510,000 apprenticeship starts in the 2012/13 academic year, 10,000 less than the number of starts in the 2011/12.

John Healey MP, whose Wentworth and Dearne constituency has seen the under 19 age group hit hard, with a 17% decrease in starts, said: "2012/13 is the first year apprenticeships have fallen for all ages from the preceding year in England since 2005.

"It is extremely disappointing to see apprenticeships in our area going down, after so many years of increases. More than 900,000 young people are out of work but David Cameron has put the apprenticeship programme into reverse.

"The Government needs to do more to help firms create the apprenticeship opportunities young people desperately need."

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion urged the Government to use next week's budget to invest in apprenticeships. She said: "It is no surprise that apprenticeships have received a great deal of attention over the last few years, with youth unemployment remaining so high; currently, over a million young people are not in education, employment or training.

"Apprenticeships offer a strong alternative to a university education, that give young people practical experience and skills that pave the way to their chosen career. Employers are able to benefit from the passion that young apprentices bring, along with a fresh outlook and high levels of energy.

"Nationally, think tanks have reported that England currently only has 11 apprentices in place for every 1,000 jobs. Now is the time for us to turn the tables, to invest in young people by creating more apprenticeships, of a greater quality. If we want an economic recovery for the long term, we must invest in young people, as young people are our future business leaders, our future engineers, and our future scientists."

Rother Valley MP Kevin Barron believes that the quality of apprenticeships should also be raised. He said: "I would like to see the creation of a new universal standard for apprenticeships so they are qualifications that employers and young people can trust. I am also calling on the Government to use the billions spent through public procurement to boost apprenticeship opportunities.

"Investing in apprenticeships is an integral part of creating a better economy that works for everyone instead of just a few. Young people in the Rother Valley are amongst those who stand to benefit, but only if the Government steps up to provide the apprenticeships we need."

Through the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) of 16-24 year olds, businesses who choose to grow their business through Apprenticeships can access funding of £1,500.

National Apprenticeship Service website

Images: RCAT

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