Anna Fazackerley: Apprenticeships alone won't give hope to a lost generation

Podium

Share
Related Topics

The size of the lost generation of young people out of education, work or training is now a million souls. In a gruesome employment market, having the right skills to compete is essential. Yet our skills system cares more about meeting qualifications targets than the real needs of individuals or employers.

The Government seems to think that qualifications are a neat proxy for the level of skills in Britain and that a boost in the mere volume of training will automatically benefit the economy. That is why we have had a flood of official statistics in recent years showing that the numbers on apprenticeships and other vocational courses have boomed.

It is true that the number of people in apprenticeships rose to 224,800 in 2008, up from 75,000 in 1997. However, a close look shows that this growth was partly driven by a rebranding of a number of different training programmes as apprenticeships.

The sensible decision to extend funding to apprenticeships for over-25s masked a 16 per cent decline in the number of 16-18 year-olds taking an apprenticeship in 2008. Moreover, a completion rate of just 53 per cent does not signal great success.

Apprenticeships are an easy sell politically – voters have heard of them (although they may no longer be what they expect). Politicians see the popularity of well-established employer-run schemes and assume it follows that apprenticeships should be rolled out to all sectors at all levels. The hitch that it doesn't want to acknowledge is that not all sectors or employers want them.

A general desire to boost apprenticeships is a good thing. But the Government's approach should not be about driving up supply and then finding artificially created demand to meet this surplus. Great energy (and money) should not be spent on foisting apprenticeships upon employers who receive no real benefit from these sorts of schemes.

If skills policy is going to make any difference it has to be about listening to what young people really need, and what employers really want. Not about notching up another point on a dubious national qualifications target.

The author is head of the education unit at Policy Exchange. The think tank is publishing a report, Get Britain Working, on Monday

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Patrick Cockburn: Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on