26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Government scraps apprenticeship targets

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Critics have accused the UK Government of “throwing in the towel” after it confirmed its target for public sector apprenticeship had been scrapped.

Under the target, public sector bodies in England with 250 or more staff had to aim to employ an average of at least 2.3 per cent of their staff as new apprentice starts over the period 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2021.

However, figures published in November revealed this target had been missed with an average apprenticeship intake of only 1.7 per cent over that period.

The armed forces performed the best, achieving an average of 7.9 per cent between 2017 and 2021, while schools were the worst at one per cent. The administrative areas of the Public Service achieved 1.8 per cent.

At that time the Government announced the target would be reset for another year until 31 March 2022, but in a statement at the beginning of this month (April) the Department of Education said there would be no further extension.

The Opposition Labour Party’s, Spokesman on Skills, Toby Perkins said after the embarrassment of missing the public sector apprenticeship target last year, the Government’s approach was now simply to scrap the target.

“It is typical of this Government that, rather than working with the sector to drive up apprenticeships, to ensure that there are more opportunities in the sector, it is happy to throw in the towel,” Mr Perkins said.

The Government said public sector employers would still be asked, but not mandated, to report their apprenticeship numbers. The data would be published annually to “support transparency and external accountability”.

The target had encompassed schools, Local Authorities, Central Government and their arms-length bodies, the National Health Service, the armed forces, and emergency services.

London, 6 April 2022

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