Apprentices 'need financial support just as much as employers'

Trainees and apprentices need financial support even more than employers – that’s the verdict of one of the West Midlands’ leading training experts.

Chris Luty, director of BCTG
Chris Luty, director of BCTG

Chris Luty, managing director of Black Country-based training group BCTG, said that while the £1,000 increase for employers was welcome, young people choosing a traineeship to prepare for an apprenticeship job get no financial help.

“Employers are concerned that the young people taking up a traineeship often have little or no money for travel or food to eat during the time they are at work. Some are going a full day without food, and struggle to pay for public transport to get to training opportunities.

“The Government is investing heavily in the traineeship programme, which provides an essential stepping stone for young people. Apprentices earn a wage, but currently traineeships don’t receive anything.”

“In some cases, employers are helping, and in our case BCTG, via The Apprenticeship Works, is effectively funding young people by providing incentives. However, this is a hit and miss approach and doesn’t help all young people who need support to develop the skills needed to move on into long term employment,” he said.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has increased the bonus to employers to £3,000 for every apprentice they take on, regardless of age, and provides a £1,000 to companies which provide traineeship work experience.

Mr Luty added: “There are no conditions attached to how the money can be used, but it is up to the employer to choose whether to keep the money or use it to support the individuals they take on. There is the opportunity to provide travel or uniform costs, or provide vouchers for the canteen where there is one, but this is left up to the individual employer.

“This means that not all apprenticeships or training opportunities are equal and we need to see stronger guidance on how the Government Grants could and should be used.”

He said the support was vital as the total number of apprentices on schemes fell by more than 20,000 between 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 as the firms made staff redundant on enrolled them on the furlough scheme as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded.

Firms that have taken on apprentices since April 1 this year are able to claim the enhanced allowance back from the Treasury. The boost to incentives was announced in the Budget earlier this year as part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs to boost UK employment as the country emerges from lockdown and the economy begins to recover.

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