Imran has today highlighted concerns that new apprenticeship funding structures which have seen the removal of support for the most disadvantaged will severely limit the number of available apprenticeship places and hold back young people in the District.
In August this year, the Skills Funding Agency published Government proposals for apprenticeship funding from 2017 onwards which removed the disadvantage uplift, a funding mechanism that was previously a key part of providing good quality training and support to young people from deprived areas, allowing them access to the best quality apprenticeships on offer.
The proposals amount to a 50% cut for the 16-18 year old apprentices living in the most deprived areas, with the cuts hitting even harder in Bradford where there is already one of the highest levels of youth unemployment in the country, as even more young people will be unable to access training for skilled employment, undermining the governments’ own target of rolling out 3 million apprenticeships by 2020.
However under the previous funding structure, City Training Services, the leading provider of apprenticeships in Bradford, saw significant good results with a success rate of 84% compared to the national average of 71%, and 45% of the young people they worked with in 2015/16 from a Bradford postcode were directly receiving training funded by the disadvantage uplift element of apprenticeship funding.
Imran has also raised further concerns around the outcomes of the Government’s reforms to apprenticeships, questioning the lack of ‘indicators of success’ by which the success of the reformed programme will be measured as highlighted in a recent National Audit Office report, declaring that the Department for Education needs to publish its indicators so that the programme can be held properly accountable.
Speaking on the changes to apprenticeships, Imran said:
“The decision by the Government to remove the disadvantage uplift not only flies in the face of their commitment to increase apprenticeships, but is a blatant attack on the life chances of the young people who live in the most deprived areas of the country, as it will restrict their access to further education and prevent them entering the skilled employment trades that we desperately need in the city.
“According to local apprenticeship providers whom I met with recently, the average age of skilled workers in the Engineering industry is over 50, so if we are to retain these skills in our communities, we need a well-funded support mechanism to get young people from school into work, and I cannot see how with the removal of the uplift the Government can do that.
“Their commitment to apprenticeships also lies hollow and goes no further than increasing the number of apprenticeship starts, as they have yet to either produce any real indicators of success by which they will measure the reformed programme, or set out how they will use the increase in numbers and range of apprenticeships to better the skills of the people undertaking them and to increase productivity in the economy.”