This week marks National Apprenticeship Week and presents an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the achievements of apprentices and their employers in Manchester, and across the country.
We know apprenticeships provide people with the chance to learn a trade and earn a wage while they progress. Investing in training opportunities must be central to any effort to rebuild our economy after the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the Government is failing to reverse a dramatic downward trend in apprentice numbers, with figures showing the number of apprenticeships in Manchester has almost halved since 2015/16.
In July, the Government announced a cash incentive for employers to take on a new apprentice. The Treasury budgeted for 100,000 payments, but new data shows just 18,670 apprentices have so far been taken on under the scheme.
That is why I am calling on the Government to adopt Labour’s wage subsidy policy to boost opportunities for young people as we rebuild our country. As it stands, young people are being let down by the Government’s irresponsible handling of this crisis which has led to soaring unemployment rates and the worst recession of any major economy.
My colleagues and I are calling on the Government to act now to create more apprenticeship opportunities by creating a wage subsidy from the underspend in the apprenticeships levy. Backed by the Association of Employers and Learning Providers (AELP), this would create 85,000 new apprenticeships for 16-24-year olds this year.
This year’s theme for National Apprenticeship Week is Build the Future. As we look to our future beyond the pandemic, I will continue to fight for young people’s opportunities in education and in employment.