Apprenticeships must help young workers, report says

Worker cutting wood with electric saw
Image caption The IPPR believes employers are increasingly reluctant to offer apprenticeships to school leavers

Apprenticeship schemes are not helping enough young people out of unemployment, according to a report.

The Institute for Public Policy Research said government funding was often used to help employers train workers over 25 years old.

It said 37,000 of the 126,000 extra apprenticeships created last year went to people aged between 16 and 24.

The Department of Education defended the government's record on apprenticeships.

The think tank said in a report on Monday that the apprenticeship "brand" should be reserved for young people.

The rise in apprenticeships for over 25s represented a growth of 257%, while for 19 to 24-year-olds it was 22%, and for 16 to 18-year-olds the growth was just 10%, the report said.

'Soft skills'

Nick Pearce, IPPR director, said: "Apprenticeships can help young people break out of the unemployment trap by offering additional general education, the chance to learn the soft skills that employers often demand, and specific job-related training.

"But employers have become increasingly reluctant to hire school leavers.

"Employers need more support to set up apprenticeship programmes, particularly when they are hiring apprentices for the first time," Mr Pearce said.

He believed that channelling more funding for apprenticeships directly to employers, rather than through training providers, could help address this problem.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "The figures show that the number of 16-18-year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET) continues to fall - but the number of teenagers who are NEET is still too high.

"We want every 16 and 17-year-old to achieve, which is why we are increasing apprenticeships and transforming vocational qualifications.

"We're raising the participation age to 18 by 2015 - whether that be full-time education in a school or college, an apprenticeship or full-time work or volunteering with part-time training alongside it."

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