Ministry of Justice: Apprentices

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 22nd September 2020.

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Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee, Chair, Education Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what progress his Department is making on meeting the 2.3 per cent public sector apprenticeship target; and when his Department will meet that target.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

As of 31 March 2020, the Civil Service has achieved a total of 2.1% of its total workforce as apprentices against the legislative target for the public sector of 2.3% by March 2021. The Ministry of Justice has achieved 1.3% of the total staff employed within the department.

The Ministry of Justice’s Apprenticeship Strategy, designed to meet the allocated targets consists of 3 strands:

  1. Promoting the use of Cabinet Office approved apprenticeships programmes to develop professional skills;
  2. Designing and delivering operational apprenticeship standards for specific operational roles; and
  3. Promoting the use of apprenticeships as an entry route / development of career pathways for staff at all levels of the organisation.

In March 2020 the MoJ reported a year on year increase in apprenticeships starts vs 2018-19 by 31%; and it was expected that this trend would continue into the new financial year, with the recruitment of c2,700 prison officer apprentices nationally throughout 2020-21.

Unfortunately, Covid-19 has significantly impacted the delivery of our apprenticeship strategy; particularly in the prison operational roles, with activity being paused in the short term. Plans are in place to rapidly re-start operational apprenticeships as soon as it is both safe and operationally viable to do so.

Given this target is a percentage of the total workforce, the percentage changes in line with workforce fluctuations over time, therefore making it challenging to predict when a department will meet it. The data for 2018/19 can be found here. The data for 2019/20 will be released on gov.uk by the end of September 2020.

Departments are committed to increasing the number of apprentices across the Civil Service and continue to work towards the 2.3% target. The impact of the current pandemic has slowed recruitment due to priority work and logistics. With the current strategy and targets coming to an end in April 2021, the Civil Service is already focusing on how to continue to support the apprenticeship agenda and drive forward apprenticeship recruitment, pulling on the Plan for Jobs initiative and considering the current economic situation.

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