Monday 8 February 2021 / 10:30 PM Education / Kate Green / Toby Perkins

Labour calls for wage subsidy to boost apprenticeships as Government incentive fails to create opportunities

Labour is today [Tuesday] reiterating its call for the Government to use a wage subsidy to create new apprenticeships, as analysis shows the Government’s cash incentive has created less than a fifth of the promised opportunities.

In July the Government announced a cash incentive of either £2,000 or £1,500 for employers to take on a new apprentice. The ‘Plan for Jobs’ budgeted for 100,000 incentive payments, but new data shows just 18,670 apprentices had been taken on under the scheme by 8 January 2021.

Launching the plan Chancellor Rishi Sunak claimed to be creating more apprenticeships, but figures show that the number of new starts between August and October 2020 was down more than a quarter on the same period in 2019. This downward trend pre-dates the pandemic and has seen 189,000 apprentice opportunities disappear since 2016.

On a virtual visit to an apprenticeships provider in the East Midlands for Apprenticeships Week, Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green and Shadow Further Education and Skills Minister Toby Perkins, will call on the Government to use unspent funds from the apprenticeships levy – which amounted to over £330 million in 2019/20 – to fund 85,000 new apprenticeships for 16-24 year olds this year, creating opportunities for young people to rebuild from the pandemic.

Kate Green MP, Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“The Government is trying to get away with quick fixes, which are selling young people short and failing to create the training and employment opportunities they need.

“The Chancellor’s failure to secure our economy means the pandemic is wreaking havoc with the jobs market and now more than ever people need access to training and the chance to learn new skills.

“Labour has repeatedly called for a plan to rebuild businesses, investing in local communities to create the jobs people need after this pandemic.”

Toby Perkins MP, Labour’s Shadow Further Education and Skills Minister, said:

“Young people are being let down by the Government’s irresponsible handling of this crisis which has led to soaring unemployment rates and the worst recession of any major economy.

“The Government should adopt Labour’s proposal for a structured wage subsidy instead of their failing cash incentives and create the apprenticeship opportunities young people need to gain productive skills and long-term employment.”