Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education

On Monday 16 August Labour pledged new opportunities for young people to earn and learn with a plan to create 100,000 new apprenticeships across the country.

Labour’s plan would see a wage subsidy boosting capacity for employers to take on young apprentices aged 16 - 24 creating new training opportunities to fuel our economic recovery from Covid.

Under the Conservatives apprenticeship starts have declined by over 40 per cent with 188,000 opportunities disappearing in the decade since 2010. Recent declines have particularly hit young learners:

For under 25s apprenticeship starts have declined 40 per cent in five years;

While among young learners from the poorest backgrounds this decline has been even starker with apprenticeship starts falling by 52 per cent.

With apprentice numbers falling, large portions of the apprenticeships levy – paid by big employers to government – are going unspent.

In 2020/21, £1.3 billion of levy funds is set to be returned to the Treasury. Labour’s plan would use £377 million of this to help employers cover 100,000 new apprentices’ wages for their first year in the job.

Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green MP, has been discussing the plans with training providers and employers on a visit to a construction academy in Rotherham, where she met with young apprentices to hear about their training and routes into long-term employment.

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said:

“The Government has overseen a decade of decline in apprentice numbers and has no plan to reverse this trend.

“Apprenticeships should be a gold standard training opportunity, but they have been neglected by successive Conservative governments which have entrenched inequalities and denied young people the opportunities they need.

“Labour is committed to helping every young person make a strong start to their working lives with quality training and employment opportunities helping them to develop the skills our economy needs.”


Labour leader pledges to back opportunities for young people to earn and learn as new data exposes Conservatives’ failure to deliver on promises for young people 

26th Apr 2021: Labour Leader, Keir Starmer, is today [Monday] pledging to back opportunities for young people to earn and learn as Labour analysis shows the Conservatives are failing to deliver on their promises to young people.

Labour analysis shows that under the Conservatives apprenticeships have declined by a third since 2015, with a particular drop among young learners:

  • For under 25s apprenticeship starts have declined 40% in five years;
  • While among young learners from the poorest backgrounds this decline has been even starker with apprenticeship starts falling by 52%.

Labour’s analysis comes as official figures have shown that younger workers have been hit hardest by the impact of the pandemic, with figures showing 365,000 under-35s have lost their job in the last year, accounting for 80% of all job losses during the pandemic.

The Conservatives’ have no plan to reverse this downward trend in opportunities. Despite pledging to expand apprenticeships, their apprenticeship incentive has created just a third of the promised opportunities, while Rishi Sunak’s Kickstart scheme has found employment for only one in every 29 young people who’ve lost work during the pandemic.

Labour’s ‘Jobs Promise’ would provide opportunities for young people to earn and learn, providing quality training, education or employment opportunities for young people who have been out of work, education or training for six months. Alongside this, Labour’s plan for a green economic recovery would create 400,000 secure jobs in low-carbon industries across the country such as steel and the automotive industry, creating new employment prospects.

Labour has also called on the Government to use the underspend from the apprenticeships levy to create an apprentice wage subsidy and boost opportunities during the pandemic. Last year this could have created 85,000 new apprenticeship opportunities for young people aged 16 – 24.

Under these plans, Labour would help recreate apprenticeship opportunities in vital sectors such as health and care, engineering and retail which have seen starts decline by over 128,000 since 2015.

Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, ahead of a visit to a college in the West Midlands, said:

“Young people who need opportunities to gain new skills, and employers who need a growing pool of talent to rebuild after this pandemic have been let down by a decade of Conservative failure on skills and training.

“Labour’s Jobs Promise would give young people the opportunity to learn and earn, gaining the skills they need to progress into secure employment.

“Our young people are hugely talented and will bring fresh ideas and skills into the workplace, Labour wants to harness their potential to rebuild a stronger economy after this pandemic.”

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, added:

“Apprenticeships should be a gold standard training opportunity, but they have been neglected by successive Conservative governments which have entrenched inequalities and denied young people the opportunities they need.

“Labour’s is committed to helping every young person make a strong start to their working lives with quality training and employment opportunities helping them to develop the skills our economy needs.”

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