Earning, learning or both: MPs' group on youth employment talk apprenticeships

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, this week chaired the latest cross-party meeting on youth employment, focusing on apprenticeships. Addressing the meeting, the Prime Minister’s apprenticeship adviser, Nadhim Zahawi, outlined the progress being made by the Government’s Earn or Learn Taskforce.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is the Germans and the Swiss who are most well-known for the quality of their apprenticeships, and it is these examples which the Government hopes to learn from in order to meet the commitment of 3 million apprenticeships this parliament (on top of the 2 million created during the last).


Commenting on the meeting Chloe said: 

“The PM’s Apprenticeship Adviser is right to highlight the examples from Germany and Switzerland. What makes these apprenticeships a success is that employers instinctively understand it.  

“In Germany we see businesses which are truly embedded into the education system, which helps young people bridge the gap between school and work. It is no accident that Germany has consistently held the title of lowest youth unemployment rate in Europe.”


The Enterprise Bill, currently in its final stages, will protect the term “apprenticeship” in law, thereby preventing misuse. Apprenticeships must now last for at least a year, involve meaningful-on-the-job training, have higher expectations for English and maths, and involve more rigorous assessment and grading. Furthermore, only vocational qualifications which lead on to jobs, further study or university will count in performance tables. Judgements on apprenticeship quality will be made independently of Government, meaning the 3 million target will have to be met the hard way, not by dumbing down quality.


There are now more people doing an apprenticeship than ever before. Here in East Anglia we’ve seen over 237,900 apprenticeship starts since 2010, with over 7,600 of these in Norwich. Apprenticeships are now available in over 170 industries and 90% of apprentices stay in employment upon completing their apprenticeship.


Recent figures showed that youth unemployment has halved in Norwich in the last year.  This is a notable further turn after the success of Chloe's Norwich for Jobs project in halving the rate in 17 months during 2013-15.


Chloe further comments:

"Norwich for Jobs will continue locally to help young people into work who may have a disability or a health condition, as clearly there are opportunities out there and everyone deserves a chance.  We encourage local firms to offer good quality apprenticeships as a good way to find an excellent new employee."

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