On 27 August we published our latest data on apprenticeship starts. There were 53,530 apprenticeship starts reported to date between 23 March, when restrictions were announced, and 31 July. This is just over half of the equivalent figure of 101,300 for this period last year – a reduction of 47%. Considering these statistics, the Learning and Work Institute highlighted the challenges that young people, particularly 16 to 18-year-olds, face in the current labour market.
We are aware that young people are likely to be disproportionately affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak and are working across government to help young people continue to develop the skills they will need for the future.
Through our ‘Plan for Jobs’ a total of £1.6 billion is to be invested in scaling up employment support schemes, training and apprenticeships.
To help support employers to offer new apprenticeships, employers are now able to claim £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire under the age of 25, in recognition of the particular impacts of COVID-19 on the employment prospects of young people.
We have introduced flexibilities to enable apprentices of all ages to continue to train during the outbreak, and we encourage employers to take advantage of these flexibilities and the new payments to offer new opportunities.
To help young people progress onto an apprenticeship or other employment we are tripling the scale of our traineeship programme. We have also announced £101 million for a brand new offer to give 18- and 19-year-old school and college leavers the opportunity to study high value level 2 and 3 courses when there are not employment opportunities available to them.