Labour claim number and quality of apprenticeships falling in Harlow

Politics / Mon 9th Feb 2015 at 01:49pm

SUZY Stride, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Harlow has spoken of her concern on the quality and quantity of apprenticeships created under the Tory-led government as the Business Department’s own research has found almost four in 10 firms offering apprenticeships don’t even realise they are doing so.

Suzy who’s professional background is helping unemployed young people into work says that new research shows that since 2010, in-work training schemes for existing employees have been rebadged as apprenticeships by the government, to fix their struggling figures. This has shifted their focus away from new entrants to the workforce and raised concerns that the apprenticeship ‘gold standard’ has been undermined.

The new research comes as the proportion of apprenticeship starts made up by 16 to 24 year olds has fallen significantly from 82.3 per cent when the last Labour government left office, to 63.2 per cent last year.

In Harlow the number of people starting an apprenticeship was down to 770 in 2014 from 930 the previous year, a decline of more than 17%.

BIS research also finds that two-thirds of employers recruiting apprentices from existing staff don’t consider their qualifications to be apprenticeships at all, and this number is increasing.

The proportion of apprenticeships made up by over 25s have more than doubled, from 17.4 per cent in 2009/10 to 36.7 per cent in 2013/14, but the statistics show the majority of these people were already employed by their employer before starting their apprenticeship, leaving the government open to accusations they are fiddling the figures.

Among apprentices over 25 years old, 93 per cent already worked for their employer before starting their apprenticeship, raising concerns that existing training programmes for those already in work are simply being rebadged as apprenticeships.

The government’s Apprenticeship Pay Survey has found that 21 per cent of apprentices receive no formal training, rising to 24 per cent for the 19-24 age group, while 15 per cent of apprentices are not receiving the relevant National Minimum Wage.

Under Labour’s plans, all apprenticeships would last a minimum of two years and be quality Level Three qualifications and involve proper training.

Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Harlow, Suzy Stride said:

“Despite all the spin and bluster from local Tories, we’ve seen the historic and trusted apprenticeship brand tarnished under this government and our current MP. For months the local Tory MP has been putting out Press Releases asking for praise on apprenticeships, but In-work training schemes have simply been rebranded as apprenticeships so that ministers can boast of increased numbers, when the true picture is that they are falling, down 17% on the previous year in Harlow.

“Where this government has failed, the next Labour government will act to safeguard apprenticeship quality, and we’d use the money which government already spends on procurement to create thousands of new top class apprenticeships.

“Our rigorous new standards would ensure that apprenticeships are a trusted gold standard once more and address the way they have been downgraded under this government.”

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