Copeland MP calls for apprenticeships support

4th February 2015
Copeland MP and Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, Jamie Reed, today called on the government to provide more opportunities for school leavers in order to increase routes into high-skilled, better paid jobs. On the government’s watch, the number of 19-24 year olds starting apprenticeships is falling.
In government, Labour rescued apprenticeships from the scrapheap. The next Labour government will rescue apprenticeships once again, creating more opportunities, including by using money the government spends on procurement to boost apprenticeship places; and we will act to safeguard the quality of apprenticeships.
Copeland MP and Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, Jamie Reed MP said:
“The number of 19-24 year olds starting apprenticeships fell by more than 6,000 between academic year 2012-13 and 2013-14. Figures from the House of Commons library show that the number of apprentices of all ages has also fallen significantly, and the biggest falls took place in North West England, with apprenticeships starts falling by 12,500. This is simply unacceptable.
“The proportion of total number of apprenticeship starts undertaken by 16-24 year olds has fallen from 82.3 per cent in 2009/10, when Labour left office, to 63.2 per cent in 2013/14, and a government document snuck out by ministers in December revealed that a shocking 21 per cent of apprentices receive no formal training.
“The last Labour government revitalised apprenticeships, boosting apprenticeship starts from 65,000 when we took office in 1997 to 279,700 in 2010, when we left office. We set up the dedicated National Apprenticeship service and launched the very successful National Apprenticeship Week. 
“If Labour are elected in May, all apprenticeships would last a minimum of two years and would be Level Three qualifications. New rigorous standards would ensure that apprenticeships are a trusted gold standard once again.
“Labour will ensure that as many school leavers go on to apprenticeships as go to university, and we will work with Britain’s leading companies and universities to develop new Technical Degrees, teaching people the high-level skills they really need to prosper in the new economy and creating new opportunities.
“We would introduce a new Technical Baccalaureate to drive up the quality of technical education in colleges, and would accredit the best colleges as Institutes of Technical Education to underpin excellence. To enhance the status of technical education and address the shortage of STEM skills (in science, technology, engineering and maths), we will accredit national centres of excellence in key sectors such as engineering and IT.

“Apprenticeships play a crucial role in providing opportunities and developing skills, as well as having a positive impact for individuals and businesses. They contribute a great deal to our economy and society. The Government’s inaction must not hold Cumbria back from achieving its economic potential. As the recent Skills Summit I held demonstrates, we need to act on this without delay.”
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