Children's charity Barnado’s has called on the government to set aside 20,000 apprenticeships for young people coming out of care.
The charity said looked-after children faced a number of challenges, which meant they often struggled at school and required extra help. A commitment by the government to make less than 1 per cent of its target of 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020 available to 16- to 18-year-olds from the foster care system would help them to get a foot on the career ladder, it added.
According to the children's charity, only 37 per cent of care-leavers achieve five A*-C GCSE passes, making it difficult for them to meet the entry requirements for many apprenticeships. Care leavers’ potential should therefore be taken into account alongisde their qualifications, Barnado’s urged, adding that intensive support should also be offered to young care-leavers who managed to secure apprenticeship places.
Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said young people leaving the care system had ambition and talents, but too often found the door to employment closed. “Getting an apprenticeship and proving themselves in work can open up the door to a successful career instead of a dependence on benefits," he added. "Young people are the future of Britain’s economy. They must be invested in and given the right support to get into work.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We are improving the lives of care leavers and helping them make a successful transition to adulthood. A good apprenticeship can help support this, and that is why we’re fully funding apprenticeships’ training for eligible care leavers aged 19-23.
“We have also changed the law so young people can live with their foster family after they turn 18, and given every child who leaves care a personal adviser. We are also investing over £100 million through the innovation programme to support vulnerable children.”