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The Unleashing Potential: Unlocking Opportunities for Young Apprentices (2024) report has identified prevalent issues within the UK’s current apprenticeship and wider skills system as apprenticeship starts for 16 – 18-year-olds continue to decline. National training provider Baltic Apprenticeships conducted the report in conjunction with GK Strategy. The report has identified four key areas affecting the potential growth of the apprenticeship landscape: the concerning change in apprenticeship demographics, the wider skills system, the opportunities available for young apprentices, and clear barriers to entry for prospective apprentices.

The 2024 report on apprenticeships highlights several concerning trends and proposes recommendations to address the decline in apprenticeship starts among 16 to 18-year-olds and the challenges faced by businesses, particularly SMEs, in recruiting individuals with relevant skills.

Key points from the report include:

Impact of the Apprenticeship Levy: The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017 has led to a decline in under-19 and SME apprenticeship starts, with funds often being used to upskill existing staff rather than hiring new apprentices.

Recommendations to Address Decline: Baltic Apprenticeships proposes several recommendations, including protecting the spirit of apprenticeships, creating true parity of esteem for apprenticeships, building in-demand skills, coordinating recruitment efforts with school decision-making processes, and improving support from school career advisors.

Young Person Bonus: Baltic Apprenticeships suggests offering a ‘Young Person Bonus’ to incentivize businesses to hire apprentices under 19. This bonus aims to counteract the decline in apprenticeship starts among this age group and promote the long-term benefits of hiring younger apprentices.

Government Support: The report calls for government support in providing maintenance loans to apprentices, similar to those offered to university students, to alleviate financial pressures and make apprenticeships more accessible and attractive.

Impact on Wider Skills System: The skills shortage faced by SMEs and high vacancy rates in the economy underscore the importance of promoting and creating apprenticeship opportunities. Apprenticeships are seen as a solution to address skills gaps and support sectors experiencing growth in the UK.

Improving Awareness and Support: The report emphasizes the need to improve awareness of apprenticeship routes, particularly among school career services, and to provide better support for apprentices throughout their training.

Overall, the report underscores the value of apprenticeships in addressing skills shortages, promoting economic growth, and providing opportunities for young people. It calls for concerted efforts from businesses, government, and educational institutions to revitalize the apprenticeship system and ensure access to opportunity at all levels.

Full story from Baltic Apprenticeships