Apprenticeships dominated by older workers and existing employees


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Most apprenticeships offered by UK employers are given to existing members of staff, making it harder for young people to get on the schemes, an expert said yesterday.

Speaking at a Work Foundation conference on skills in London, Lizzie Crowley, senior researcher at the Work Foundation, said: “Around 80% of apprenticeships go to existing members of staff. The sector is dominated by the over-25s.”

In some sectors the figure is even higher. “In social care the figure increased to 90%,” added Crowley.

Shadow universities, science and skills minister Liam Byrne claimed the framework currently in place for vocational learning was to blame for the imbalance. “The skill system isn't flexible enough to adapt and get young, unemployed people into the workforce,” he said.

Byrne called for the number of apprenticeships in the UK to increase dramatically. “It’s harder now to get onto the apprenticeship scheme for Jaguar Land Rover than it is to get into Oxford University,” he said. “This demonstrates that there is a very serious problem in this country around this issue.”

Another area where apprenticeships are struggling to deliver is training. Again, the social care sector has a particularly poor record: one in five apprentices in this sector said they had received no training, either on the job or off the job, on their scheme.

Another issue is pay, delegates heard, with a proportion of apprentices not being paid enough. Fred Grindrod of Unionlearn, the learning and skills organisation of the TUC, said: “Research carried out by the TUC showed that three out of 10 apprentices are being paid beneath the minimum wage. We are calling for ministers to look into this as a matter of urgency.”

Increase in apprenticeships

Research from the National Apprenticeship Survey, released yesterday, shows that 44% of companies plan to take on apprentices by 2019. This is up from 36% from the figure this time last year.

BT is taking on 730 apprentices in the next year. Chief executive Gavin Patterson said: "Apprenticeships really deliver for our business. Hiring apprentices helps BT grow our own talent by developing a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce. An apprenticeship is a way for people to earn while they learn in a real job, gaining a real qualification and a real future."

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