Boris’ apprenticeship programme is failing young people

Time is running out for the mayor to reach his target


Government statistics have shown that between April 2012 and June 2014, only 96,500 apprenticeships were started in London. This marks a failure for Boris Johnson’s apprenticeship programme, which promised to deliver 250,000 by May 2016.

Labour’s London Assembly economic spokesperson Fiona Twycross has accused the programme of ‘utterly failing young people’. In addition to the low delivery, statistics show that 44 per cent of apprenticeships went to people over the age of 25, a result of government changes which reclassified some in-work training schemes as apprenticeships.

According to a recent report from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, 93 per cent of apprentices over the age of 25 already worked for their employer prior to starting an ‘apprenticeship’ under the new system. The charity Edge Foundation described the system as ‘deadweight – that is, subsidies for training that would have happened anyway.’

Fiona Twycross AM said:

“Boris Johnson has a vast mountain to climb if he is going to come anywhere near delivering the quarter of a million apprenticeships he promised Londoners by 2016.

“Even with those apprenticeships which are being created, almost half of them are going to people over 25 years old and already in work. Whilst it’s important to support people to develop their careers, this approach leaves the apprenticeship programme utterly failing young people.

“The government’s gerrymandering of the apprenticeship system has meant in-work training which would have happened anyway is gobbling up the limited subsidies. This is locking out young people desperately seeking an apprenticeship to give them a first step on the career ladder.”

The findings coincide with the beginning of National Apprenticeship Week in the UK, which Nick Clegg announced in a video message last week. The deputy prime minister praised business who take on apprentices, and said that ‘since 2010, more than 2 million young people have set out to achieve their dreams through an apprenticeship.’

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter 

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