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April, 2019:

New charter calls for apprenticeships to be refocused on young people

Apprenticeships should be refocused towards young people and have education at their heart, according to a new charter launched today by UCU.

The union said the government should scrap its “arbitrary” target of three million apprenticeship starts and refocus the programme on providing genuine, high-quality learning and employment opportunities for young people.

The charter says that the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, coupled with the government’s push to achieve three million new apprenticeships, has led to many employers simply rebadging existing training options for staff rather than creating real jobs and opportunities for young people – an issue also raised recently by¬†National Audit Office.

Other proposals in the charter include simplifying quality assurance arrangements, action to improve equalities monitoring, and putting apprenticeships at the heart of efforts to develop new climate jobs.

The charter will be launched at an event in Westminster this evening, with speakers including UCU vice president Nita Sanghera, shadow further education and skills minister Gordon Marsden MP and UCU further education committee vice-chair Sean Vernell.

UCU head of further education, Andrew Harden, said: ‘The government’s reforms have led to many employers simply rebadging existing training rather than opening up new opportunities for education and employment. Two years on from the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, too many young people still find themselves unable to access the benefits offered by apprenticeships.

‘This charter sets out an alternative vision for the future of apprenticeships which has education at its heart, a strong emphasis on quality, and would help to create real jobs as part of an integrated industrial strategy. The government should scrap its arbitrary numbers target and refocus the apprenticeship programme on opening up genuine opportunities for the workforce of the future.’