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Research finds increased government investment could double youth apprenticeship numbers

An increase in the amount of financial support the Government invests in on-the-job youth training could help to double the number of apprentices being taken on next year, a new study has found.

The research from Checkatrade, an online directory of recommended tradespeople, found just a third (34 per cent) of its members had been planning to take on an apprentice in the next 12 months – but that figure went up to 68 per cent when factoring in extra funding.

However, the poll, conducted amongst more than 1,000 independent trades firms, found that to make that impact, more than half (54 per cent) said the investment figure would need to be nearer to £7,000 per candidate, that’s double what’s currently on the table.

In the Summer Statement, the Government announced increased investment for employers, offering £3,000 towards taking on a 16 to 18-year-old and £2,000 for taking on an apprentice between 18 and 24.

Despite that modest increase, the number of young people embarking on apprenticeships is expected to fall by up to 50 per cent this September, with as many as with three-fifths missing out on work and training due to the pandemic according to a study by the Sutton Trust.

Helen Booth, CEO of the HomeServe Foundation, which seeks to increase the number of construction and trade apprentices, said: “Since lockdown, we’ve seen a rise in demand for skills such as building, home repairs and decorating, yet we’re already seeing very worrying signs that the number of apprentices to be trained in those skills is set to plummet this year.

“With apprentices themselves on furlough and deadlines looming to join courses in September, such as those we offer at the Nottingham-based HomeServe Academy, there are fears that small construction and domestic repair firms will not be able to afford the financial outlay of an apprentice.

“The consequences of that decline could be disastrous for the industry as well as those young people who will miss out on their experience and education at a critical time. We need to see a significant increase in the amount of funding available and that decision needs to be taken in the next few weeks.”

According to recent statistics, around a third of all 18-24-year-olds have lost jobs or been furloughed during the Covid-19 crisis. With the furlough scheme coming to an end, there is a fear this age group is on course to be the hardest hit.

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