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22 August 2019

Exhausted funds threaten future of apprenticeship system

Pupils right across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are finding out today how they did in their GCSEs and deciding their futures in education.

And while some will go onto do A-Levels, more must be done to make pupils aware of the opportunities that are open to them away from traditional A-Levels such as apprenticeships and from next year T Levels.

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “Each year pupils will make critical decisions about how they intend to further their education, which for some will mean going onto study A-Levels. But while that may suit some pupils entering Sixth Form, it doesn’t help others who may thrive far better elsewhere.

“Throughout the 2018/19 academic year, new apprenticeship starts were only marginally up (6.6%) on the same period for the previous year, but this compares to a 30 per cent fall from the 2016/17 academic year in England.

“The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson must take urgent action now, to shore up the vital funding that small firms need to take on an apprentice.

“There are serious concerns about the likely exhaustion of the levy budget and the consequences for non-levy paying employers. Which is why the forthcoming spending review is crucial to ensuring that funds are replenished.

“The new Secretary of State must also do more to reduce the upfront costs attached to the recruitment of apprentices. Our research shows the biggest challenge attached to engaging with apprenticeships is the recruitment of an apprentice, with 42 per cent of smaller businesses with apprentices struggling with this.

“When it comes to skills shortages, skilled trade occupations report the highest number of shortages at 37 per cent, an issue that needs addressing urgently and could be helped by increasing the number of apprentices. This is why the promotion of technical skills is so vital.

“From September 2020, the introduction of T Levels in England will be another avenue that pupils can use to educate and train themselves for the future.

“But Government must do more to raise awareness of T levels amongst smaller businesses and make work placements as easy as possible for smaller businesses to engage with to ensure that the system doesn’t fail before it even starts.

“There is much more to be done to ensure that the future of education and skills is brighter and successful which is why actions must be taken sooner rather than later.”

“And to all pupils, congratulations and well done with your results.”