As 2010 drew to a close, not only had the Conservative party promised in its manifesto to create 20,000 additional apprenticeships across key sectors, but the Queen had recognised in her speech to the nation the key role sport should play in our society.
It is therefore extremely disappointing that the Coalition is now stalling on its commitment to support highly successful Young Apprenticeships, particularly the sports management, leadership and coaching programme in the FE sector.
In previous years the policy and process for future cohorts has been released 12 months before teaching begins. Following this model, sector skills councils such as SkillsActive should have been informed of the Government's funding commitment in September 2010. This would have allowed time for the Young People's Learning Agency to allocate funds to delivery partnerships and for learners to be recruited for September 2011. But so far the Government has not announced its commitment.
Since its launch in 2005, more than 2,000 14 to 16-year-olds have successfully completed the Young Apprenticeships programme. These young people have been given a fantastic opportunity to achieve a recognised, vocational qualification and gain work experience with key employers. With youth unemployment on the rise, this programme offers young people a much needed career pathway and helps employers source enthusiastic, skilled talent.
Without an imminent decision from the Government this successful programme will be lost. Young people will be denied an opportunity to prepare for a highly competitive jobs market and employers will struggle to find qualified, motivated youngsters to fill crucial positions.
On behalf of SkillsActive, I urge the Coalition to provide clear guidance on the future of Young Apprenticeships and, in doing so, to recognise the tremendous success the programme has achieved to date.
Stephen Studd, Chief executive, SkillsActive Group.