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Apprenticeships, age and youth unemployment

by on September 5, 2016

Youth unemployment has been a recurring theme in online age at work stories since we started writing this blog. The latest twist – planned cuts to apprentice funding – has been picked up on by a number of Labour MPs – with David Lammy writing this opinion piece today in The Guardian. He situates his argument within a youth unemployment context, citing a current youth unemployment rate of 13.7%.

Within the wider context of apprenticeships, one of the trends we’ve noticed is the introduction of schemes for different including older age groups (like the Barclays Over 50 apprenticeships we blogged about here). Though it’s not clear to me why apprenticeships should be so chronologically age-specific. Why use 50 as a threshold for access to this type of re-training? Why not have apprenticeships available for all ages? They are often said to be a valid and vital counterpart to university. So if we can go to uni at any age then why not start an apprenticeship at any age?

Interestingly, the Government is reported here as wanting to move away from using age (and location) as the basis for different funding rates for apprenticeships and to simplify the system from an employer perspective.

In the meantime, however, the proposed changes specifically relate to funding for apprenticeships for the 16-18 year age group. These would come into effect in May 2017 apparently leading to cuts of 30-50% of funding rates paid to some colleges and training providers that teach young apprentices.

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