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

Recruitment Genius: Concierge and Porter

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a customer focused, pro...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Customer Support Technician

£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Waterlooville based softwa...

Ashdown Group: C# Developer - (C#, VB.Net, SQL, Git, TDD)

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Developer (C#, VB & ASP.Net, SQL Server, TSQL) - Pe...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The five reasons why I vote

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Daily catch-up: the gap between rich and poor has narrowed (a little) since the banking crisis

John Rentoul
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot