We anticipate that there will be about 3 million apprenticeships over the course of the next Parliament. The provision will come into effect in 2016-17. Not every apprentice is under 25, so not every apprentice will benefit from the provisions, but a large number of apprentices in the next Parliament will benefit.
Overall, we estimate that about 180,000 employers offering apprenticeships in the UK are likely to benefit from the measure. Apprenticeship data from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills for England for the 2013-14 academic year show that about
500,000 apprentices under the age of 25 are employed throughout the country, and we estimate that about 130,000 apprentices in England are aged 21 to 24. That group will be directly affected by the measure, with those under 21 already benefiting from the zero rate for under-21s from April this year. I hope that information is helpful to the House.
Many Members were delighted by the Chancellor’s announcement on apprenticeships in the autumn statement, which demonstrated, yet again, the Government’s commitment to apprenticeships. If we wish to succeed in the global race, we need a well-educated and well-trained work force and to support employers who provide the training and experience that young people need if they are to be more productive and effective and more likely to make a substantial contribution to the economy.
Quite rightly, we often debate how to improve living standards, but ultimately it is down to improvements in productivity. As the economist Paul Krugman said—I do not often quote him:
“Productivity isn’t everything, but…it is almost everything”.
As part of our long-term economic plan, one measure we are taking to improve productivity is ensuring a well-trained work force, and encouraging apprenticeships is key to that. It is yet another aspect of our long-term economic plan. It will help us improve our productivity, and as productivity increases, so too will wages, salaries and living standards.