Apprenticeship bill under threat

Posted on 5 Dec 2008 by The Manufacturer

A government bill aiming to create 400,000 apprentice places by 2020 is under threat due to the economic downturn, according to some MPs.

The bill aims to massively increase the number of apprenticeships available in England over the next decade. But now there are fears that small businesses will cut back training programmes during the current economic crisis. The committees warn that the only way to sustain these would be for government assistance to be given.

MPs in the Children, Schools and Families committee and the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills committee are concerned that 400,000 is an unrealistic target. They fear that the bill is ill-equipped to ensure that all these are of a high standard.

Brenda Barber of the TUC said: “If apprenticeships are to offer meaningful career opportunities, they must be of good quality, where apprentices are treated well and earn a decent wage.”

“Legislative powers to regulate and promote apprenticeships give the opportunity to do just that, and it is important we get it right.”

Those opposing the bill in its current state have called for it to be redrafted, to avoid the quality of the schemes being diluted, resulting in apprenticeships becoming worthless.

In September Gordon Brown announced that he would support the creation of 1,500 apprenticeships specifically in manufacturing, pledging £24 million to research in this industry.