Jane Hickie is chief executive of Association of Employment and Learning Providers

The continued uncertainty around the pandemic keeps having an impact on education, skills and employment. The mainstream media likes to get its hooks into eye-catching developments such as recent graduates going on to take “panic Masters”, but official data often offers a more nuanced picture of how young people are responding to these unprecedented circumstances.

Nonetheless we can generally see a picture of more young people, either at 16 or 18, choosing to stay on in full-time education because of covid. In fact UCAS has just published figures showing that 272,500 UK students aged 18 have been accepted into university or college so far this year, a 7% increase on 2020 and a new record. Entering the world of work, often with only short-term contracts on offer, can’t appear a very attractive proposition to many young people at this time despite the economy picking up and vacancies also being at record highs.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that young people are making the wrong choice, especially if they end up with a good qualification at the end of their course. But there is a real issue around whether they are aware of all the options which are available to them. Apprenticeships offer the opportunity to earn and learn up to and including degree level in many sectors. Since the beginning of 2021, the number of apprenticeship vacancies have been increasing every month and there were 19,550 vacancies in July to coincide with the end of the academic year. It just seems odd right now that employers are experiencing challenges to fill them, but the evidence suggests that some potentially strong candidates are choosing to stay on to learn in a lecture room instead.

Starts still down

Apprenticeship starts overall are still down 7% from a year ago because the three lockdowns closed workplaces to potential new recruits, but a definite ray of light has appeared since the Chancellor’s Budget in March in the form of increased employer incentives to take on new apprentices. The incentives have undoubtedly worked and have helped to mitigate the negative impact which the pandemic has had on apprenticeship starts. As of 10 August 2021, the number of apprentices recorded on the Apprenticeship Service for whom incentive claims have been submitted by employers totalled 85,430 and that’s a really impressive outcome.

More importantly in the context of the debate around whether the levy system needs rebalancing, 75% of the claims were made for apprentices aged between 16 and 24. This is very encouraging when starts for that age group are only half of the overall total. Similarly 83% of claims were made for level 2 and 3 starts when those levels have declined from 80% to 68% of starts overall.

Incentives helping SMEs

I’ve said to ministers that while AELP strongly supports the embodiment of employer choice in the levy system as part of an all age, all level and all sector programme, we have become concerned that apprenticeships might lose the social mobility element with which they have been traditionally associated. The incentives, which are due to end on 30 September, have helped ITPs to encourage SME employers to take on new apprentices and SMEs tend to offer proportionately more opportunities to young people and at the lower levels. This should also be seen as a positive development in terms of levelling up across the country.

The fact that the government is keeping the employer incentives in place for traineeships and T Levels at least until 31 July 2022 is a good argument for maintaining a consistent approach in protecting young people’s futures which means that the apprenticeship incentives for 16 to 24 year olds should be extended until at least that date as well.

Spending Review wishlist for apprenticeships

We now know that the outcome of the Spending Review 2021 (SR21) will be announced with the Autumn Budget on 27 October and in addition to an extension of the employer incentives for apprenticeships, AELP is recommending that:

  1. To ensure the financial sustainability of the apprenticeship system for all sized employers and all ages of apprentices in the long term, overall funding for apprenticeships needs to match employers' demands, including a standalone annual budget of at least £1bn for SMEs’ apprenticeships.
  1. To build on the success of the employer financial incentives first deployed in the Plan for Jobs, there needs to be an ongoing basket of incentives to support young people, create entry-level programmes and routes into key industries, and help SME employers. To further support young people climb the ladder of opportunity, the Department of Education should fund all the apprenticeship training for 16-18 apprentices out of its mainstream 16-19 budget instead of the levy.
  1. To bring true equality between academic and technical education, apprentices needing to develop English and maths functional skills during their apprenticeship should get fair funding which is equal to the current classroom-funded rate.

The Chancellor has done a great job over the last 18 months in championing apprenticeships and traineeships but the programme start numbers suggest that a major effort of in terms of support for skills is still required and the Autumn Budget offers that opportunity.

Jane Hickie is chief executive of Association of Employment and Learning Providers

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 2 days ago

The Environmental Impacts of Remote Work: Stats and Benefits: Working from home is a necessity rather than a luxury… https://t.co/NEJrovahxg
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page