Apprentices should be given a maintenance grant of at least £1,000, Welsh assembly members have said.
A report by the Welsh Assembly’s economy, infrastructure and skills committee made 14 recommendations to the Welsh government to improve apprenticeship provision.
The committee said there was a “strong moral case” for apprentices to enjoy the same support as Welsh university students, who from September will be eligible for a maintenance grant of at least £1,000.
Parity of esteem
“Parity of esteem between vocational and academic routes needs to be underpinned by parity of support for learners,” the report stated.
The report also recommended there should be a target for apprenticeships conducted in the Welsh language because the committee believes there is a gap between the likely demand and ability to meet it.
The committee chair, Russell George, said there was much that is positive about apprenticeships in Wales but there were a few "surprises".
He added: “We were surprised that the number of disabled apprentices in Wales was far below the rate achieved in England."
'Stubborn gender segregation'
“We were concerned that a lack of providers may be preventing young people undertaking apprenticeships through the medium of Welsh, and we heard of the economic barriers – cost of travel, a suit for interviews etc – which can prevent young people from taking up opportunities. There also remains a stubborn gender segregation when we talk about apprenticeships.”
A Welsh government spokesperson said: “We thank the committee for its report. We will consider its recommendations carefully will respond in detail over the coming weeks.
“We are committed to raising skills and improving opportunities in the workplace, which is why we broadened access to apprenticeships for people of all ages. We will continue to do all we can to ensure that apprenticeships are available to individuals across Wales.”
In April, the committee will review the impact of the apprenticeship levy around the first anniversary of its introduction.