The government must take action to ensure all apprentices can move into "secure, well-paid jobs" after finishing their training, the NUS students' union has said.
The comments came after skills minister Nick Boles told the House of Commons today that the government wanted to give all young people the chance to make the most of their talents and create a better life for themselves.
“That’s exactly why we are committed to creating 3 million apprenticeships by 2020," he said. "Businesses and colleges should be congratulated for helping apprenticeships move from strength to strength. I am hugely proud of the success we have achieved together and look forward to even more young people getting the chance to work hard and get on.”
According to the government, the number of people starting higher apprenticeships in England reached 19,800 in 2014-15 – an increase of 115 per cent on the previous year. It has also said that through the apprenticeship levy, it will be doubling the annual level of spending on apprenticeships in cash terms between 2010 to-2011 and 2019- 2020 to £2.5 billion.
While the apprenticeship levy will only be paid by employers with a payroll bill of £3 million or more, Mr Boles stressed to MPs that small- and medium-sied enterprises (SMEs) would be eligible for any unspent funding generated by the levy which is not used by the marger firms. “We do not anticipate that all companies who pay the levy will use up all of their money in their digital accounts, and there will be a great deal more money to go around, so we are absolutely determined that the level of apprenticeships provided by small- and medium-sized enterprises will continue as now," he said.
The NUS said that while it was pleased to see apprenticeships recognised as a pathway for young people, more had to be done to ensure that apprentices had a successful career ahead of them. Vice-president for further education Shakira Martin said: “Three million new apprentices is all very well and good, but we want to hear the government’s plans for three million secure, well-paid jobs to follow them up.”