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Three million apprenticeships in 5 years – do the sums add up?

Chief Executive of the Institute of the Motor Industry welcomes the ambitious target of the new Government – but questions whether it’s achievable

Chief Executive of the Institute of the Motor Industry welcomes the ambitious target of the new Government – but questions whether it’s achievable.

Steve Nash, CEO of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), welcomes the ambitious goal of the new Government to see more apprenticeships created than ever before. But, with data from the Skills Funding Agency suggesting that apprenticeship starts in the motor retail sector alone have plateaued in the last 12-18 months, he wonders whether new Minister for Business, Sajid Javid has been set a task too great to achieve. “If the Government wants to achieve its goal of 3 million additional apprenticeships in 5 years, 50,000 new apprenticeships need to be created every single month – and the clock’s already ticking!” said Steve Nash. “Making the task even more challenging is the fact that young people will soon have to be in education or training until they are 18, which means that schools will inevitably be reluctant to release all but the least academically able students into vocational training, which is not what business needs. Furthermore, the desperate lack of careers advice in schools will make it extremely difficult for candidates and their families to make reasoned choices.

“In their manifesto, the Conservatives promised to give employers much more control of apprenticeships so that they can ‘teach in the workplace’. The IMI is encouraged by this because we firmly believe that employers need to be able to tailor apprenticeships to their specific needs. We do, however, still have some concerns about the plan to replace job seekers allowance for 18-21 year olds with a ‘youth allowance’, limited to 6 months and then requiring the young person to take on an apprenticeship, traineeship or community work to continue to receive benefits. Is there a risk this will create a significant number of trainees or apprentices that are not actually in it for the training but just to secure their benefits? High quality apprenticeships of the type that the government are exhorting businesses to create require high quality candidates, not conscripts!”

Overall the government’s clear commitment to apprenticeships is extremely positive. The IMI has many decades’ experience in delivering apprenticeship programmes and it welcomes the opportunity to talk to Sajid Javid and Minister for Skills, Nick Boles, to identify ways to help the Government’s achieve its ambitious goals.

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