Budget 2014 boost for apprenticeships
CEO Chris Jones responds to the 2014 Budget boost for apprenticeships
19 March 2014
It’s encouraging to see the Government taking steps towards combating youth unemployment in the Budget. Not only has the Government cut national insurance contributions for under-21s from next year, but it has also announced a £190 million boost for apprenticeships. Although today’s ONS figures show a slight drop in youth unemployment (29,000), it’s still a major cause for concern.
Apprenticeships are a great way of helping people of all ages start out in their careers, and greater access to these opportunities is vital in the battle against unemployment.
Now we need to see stability in the system. Over the past few months there have been extensive changes to apprenticeships - from a focus on employer ownership, to the trailblazer expansion, right through to the end of 24+ loans. The emphasis should now be on protecting funding across the further education sector, as well as educators and employers working together to drive quality.
Businesses of all sizes must be empowered to make the most of this investment, by taking on apprentices, particularly as they fight to grow in tough markets and struggle to fill skills gaps. While measures such as the ability to recover subsidies through PAYE have good intentions, we're yet to see whether they work in practice. We cannot assume businesses have the time, the resources, or the will to deal with any additional red tape – whatever their size.
This Government’s investment and commitment to apprenticeships is a step in the right direction. Now we need to develop a strong, stable system that meets the needs of young people, employers, and our economy.