Scrap level 2 apprenticeships for 16-18 learners, report argues

The IPPR calls for a new 'pre-apprenticeship' programme for younger learners

Will Martin

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The government should scrap lower-level apprenticeships for 16- to 18-year-olds, and replace them with a new pre-apprenticeship programme, a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) proposes.

The report, published today, says that government should "phase out" level 2 apprenticeships for 16-18 learners, which are not "sufficient to help young people with relatively low levels of education get a foot on the career ladder".

According to the thinktank, a new pre-apprenticeship programme should differ from existing apprenticeships by containing more off-the-job training, and include more general education in English and maths. It should also use subsidies to incentivise employers to hire young apprentices through the apprenticeship levy.

The report suggests that there should be one pre-apprenticeship programme for each of the 15 technical pathways outlined in the Sainsbury review of technical education, and that these should be designed explicitly to get more young people on to a full level 3 apprenticeships at 18 or 19.

Abolishing apprenticeships 'an interesting approach'

David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: "Abolishing level 2 apprenticeships and instead introducing a rigorous pre-apprenticeship is an interesting approach to ensuring that all apprenticeships offer valuable high-quality training for both young people and employers and potentially to support better and fairer access.

"The AoC has been calling for the introduction of a pre-apprenticeship offer for some time, so it’s good to see other organisations pushing for the same idea, even if we probably need to debate the level at which that is delivered. Supporting the UK economy by tackling skills gaps and shortages is vital, so it is vital that entry-level provision for adults aged 19 and over, including those who are changing careers, should be maintained.

"All further education colleges provide apprenticeships and are keen to do more, so it is interesting to see the suggestion that this offer should only be open to colleges and not-for-profit training providers. I’m sure that will be debated long and hard."

Clare McNeil, associate director for work and families at IPPR, said: "Young people often struggle to make the transition from education to work. Our apprenticeship system is failing too many young people. It is just not giving them the opportunity they need to build a successful career, and to make the most of their talents. Britain can’t afford to waste young people’s talents like this any more."

'An apprenticeship nation'

Robert Halfon, minister for apprenticeships and skills, said: “We are determined to ensure that people of all backgrounds and all ages can get on the ladder of opportunity. That is why we introduced traineeships, which are backed by business, and provide young people with the vital work experience and skills they need to gain an apprenticeship or a job.

“We want to transform this country into an apprenticeship nation and level 2 apprenticeships are a key part of that. Level 2 apprentices can earn up to £74,000 more over their lifetime, thanks to the skills they gain. We are also supporting young people into full-time jobs with training through 16-18 apprenticeships – providing sustainable careers, with proven returns on future earnings and employment. We have recently gone even further to encourage employers to hire young apprentices by committing to pay training providers £1,000 each when they take on a 16- to 18-year-old.”

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Will Martin picture

Will Martin

Will is a junior reporter at TES

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