A new report published by the House of Commons Library has raised concerns about whether the government will manage to hit apprenticeship targets 2020.
Figures for 2014-15 showed a 14 per cent increase in the overall number of apprenticeships however 34 constituencies actually saw a drop in the number of people starting an apprenticeship, while a further 17 parliamentary constituencies saw no change in the number of new apprentices when compared to the year before.
The South East saw the biggest drop in apprenticeship starts (980) of which 440 came in justice secretary Michael Gove’s Surrey heath constituency. By contrast Richmond in North Yorkshire saw 2,160 new apprenticeship starts, which helped to boost the 10,000 extra apprenticeship starts in Yorkshire and The Humber over the last 12 months.
Despite what appears to be a drop in some areas, a spokesman from the Department of Business Innovation and Skills asserted, “More people across the country are doing an apprenticeship than ever before. We are committed to reaching 3 million high quality apprenticeship starts in England by 2020 so that we have the modern highly skilled workforce businesses need now and in the future.”
It will certainly be interesting to see how apprenticeship figures change over the next 12 months – and if there are any notable geographic discrepancies. But what could be behind these latest figures?
A spokesman for the Association of Employers and Learning Providers (AELP) questioned whether industrial closures could be to blame for the drop in some areas, stating, “Schools or sixth-forms are persuading more young people to stay on until 18, instead of going down a work-based learning route like an apprenticeship.” However, he added, “but at the end of the day, the fact that the numbers are moving in the right direction bodes well as far as making sure that there are enough skilled young people.”
Here is the list of constituencies that saw a fall in apprenticeship starts between 2013-14 and 2014-15 – and by how many:
440 – Surrey Heath
200 – Wokingham
70 – Blackburn
60 – East Devon
50 – Barnsley Central, Clacton, Aylesbury, Brighton Kempton, East Surrey, Maidenhead
40 – Hazel Grove, North Herefordshire, Chesham and Amersham, Truro
30 – Wansbeck, Pendle, Lewisham Deptford, Poplar and Limehouse, North East Hampshire, North West Hampshire
20 – Berwick-upon-Tweed, Carlisle, South Northamptonshire, South Cambridgeshire, Bristol West
10 – Halton, Tatton, Beckenham, Tooting, Brighton Pavilion, Hove, Romsey and Southampton North, Runneymede and Weybridge, Cotswolds