Separate support packages for young people and adults will be required to support the UK’s post-Covid recovery, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has said.
AELP is calling for £8.6bn in funding from the government – £5bn for skills training and £3.6bn in wage subsidies – in advance of expected July statements from prime minister Boris Johnson and the chancellor. This comes after Mr Johnson said last week that young people should be guaranteed an apprenticeship.
Prime Minister: Young people should get apprenticeship guarantee
The AELP submission calls for an apprenticeship wage subsidy to encourage employers to make opportunities available for young people aged 16 to 24. Supporting half a million young apprentices, the subsidy could cost around £3.6bn, according to AELP.
For adult workers, the organisation says the government should “park” plans for a £3bn National Skills Fund and £100m National Retraining Scheme and instead channel the funding into well-established adult skills programmes. The annual adult education budget (AEB) of £1.5bn needs increasing to £4.5bn to help tackle mass unemployment and support vital reskilling for those who have remained in work, says AELP.
A pre-apprenticeship programme for young people and adults that involves a job commitment from day 1 should be introduced, and traineeships should be supported and expanded to adults aged over 25. Young people on a traineeship programme should be paid an allowance, and free travel considered for 16- to 24-year-olds nationally, according to the submission from AELP.
The organisation stressed apprenticeship levy funding should not be used for skills programmes other than apprenticeships.
AELP chief executive Mark Dawe said: “The country can’t wait for the government to take six months to come up with entirely new employment and skills programmes. Instead, it needs to mostly scale up existing programmes using trusted delivery partners.
“The prime minister’s proposed ‘apprenticeship guarantee’ shouldn’t be dismissed as unworkable, but employer signup is essential and this requires a realistic level of wage subsidy during the recovery period.
“While young people are likely to be the worst hit after furloughing ends, adults in and out of work need proper support, too, and AELP believes that a major injection of funding into the adult education budget is essential. Our costed proposals focus on getting people into work and keeping them there and we believe that they will deliver value for money as well as making a big difference to people’s lives.”