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Apprenticeships in 2016

Friday 18-03-2016 - 15:39

It’s National Apprenticeship Week, and with vital elections across the UK in under two months, we have a range of policy recommendations for apprenticeships.

The National Society of Apprentices (NSoA) represents over 150,000 apprentices across the UK. With three million new apprenticeships set to be created within five years (according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) ‘2020 Vision’) this representation is more important than ever.

With vital elections coming up across the UK, NSoA have created a nine-point plan to address the challenges facing apprentices:

  1. The apprentice levy provided to business should be used to top-up the current national minimum wage for apprentices (£3.30/hour).
  2. The government should have targets for gender equality in science and engineering.
  3. Ensure that the growth in apprentice numbers isn’t accompanied by a decline in success rates and those entering secure jobs.
  4. Any devolved or government procurement contract should commit companies to taking on apprentices.
  5. Introduce an Apprentice Travel card, as some apprentices are paying 20% of their income on travel
  6. Apprenticeships should provide a pathway into higher education in sectors where there are shortages of higher level skills.
  7. Apprentices should be exempt from Council Tax, in the same way as full-time students.
  8. Significant investment in careers advice within the national curriculum.
  9. Childcare provision should be extended to apprentices aged 20 and under.

As well as this, we have produced specific policy proscriptions for the elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly, Welsh Assembly, and Scottish Parliament.

The 2016 NUS-USI manifesto, Owning Our Future, contains some important clauses for apprenticeships. It calls on apprentice pay to match the living wage, and for public sector contracts to include social clauses that guarantee more work opportunities for graduates, FE college leavers, and apprentices.

The National Society of Apprentices Wales has produced a manifesto for the Welsh Assembly elections, which contains six key recommendations: create a working group to tackle gender-defined industries; create clear pathways into higher education for apprentices at Level 3 and above; introduce an Apprentice Travel Card; improve access for Welsh language speakers; a more radical approach to government procurement contract policies; and, to create a parity of esteem for schools between apprenticeships and other outcomes.

The National Society of Apprentices Scotland has put together a comprehensive manifesto ahead of the 2016 Scottish elections. It contains four key asks: Creating travel discounts for apprentices; ensure that apprentices don’t pay for council tax; closing the gender pay gap across all apprentice frameworks; and, reforming public procurement guidelines to ensure apprentice opportunities are created through all public spending.

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