IPPR calls for enhanced apprenticeship schemes

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IPPR calls for enhanced apprenticeship schemes (image credit: iStock/shironosov)

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) is calling on employers across the UK to increase the scope of their apprenticeship programmes to provide the best start in life for young people entering into new careers.

Following the introduction of a new government target of delivering upwards of three million additional apprenticeship positions across the UK by the end of the decade, businesses in England and Wales have been receiving support in the creation of these roles.

However, the IPPR now claims that some of the measures that have been implemented to date to attract businesses to set up new apprenticeship schemes may be hindering these efforts rather than helping.

The organisation's report claimed that young people in particular may not be benefiting as much as they could from new programmes, with many employers favouring older applicants, while at the same time, issues over the incoming Apprenticeship Levy could also be holding back support at present.

As such, the body has made a number of suggestions, which it believes will address these concerns in the coming years:

  • A tightening of apprenticeship position standards across the country;
  • Extension of the Apprenticeship Levy to cover smaller firms;
  • A dedicated 'pre-apprenticeship' route into these programmes for 16 to 18-year-olds;
  • Re-introduction of a nationally-recognised qualification as part of all apprenticeships;
  • Extending the current deadline for delivery of three million placements, with a focus on the quality of schemes rather than quantity.

Highlighting the ongoing support that is needed to attract more young people into apprenticeship places, IPPR senior research fellow Charlynne Pullen said that apprenticeship places need to be a key route into industry for young people in future, but the current system is not geared towards making this a reality.

Meanwhile, IPPR director for public services Jonathan Clifton stated: "England is in danger of introducing an apprenticeship system that would work well in the economy of the 1960s, but is not fit for a 21st-century workforce.

"We need to create an apprenticeship system that works in a jobs market that is increasingly characterised by small firms, service sector jobs and flexible working.

"The government have made a number of steps in the right direction - including introducing an Apprenticeship Levy - but there is more work to be done to ensure that all young people have access to high-quality 'earning and learning' routes."

Mr Clifton concluded that the creation of programmes that provide transferable skills and deliver recognised qualifications must be the focus if an increase in apprenticeships is to lead to lasting benefits for young people and the nation in general in the coming years.