Wednesday 10 February 2021 / 10:30 PM Education / Kate Green

Labour reveals majority of Government departments still missing their own apprenticeships target

A majority of Government departments are still missing their own target for employing apprentices in the public sector nearly four years after it was introduced, Labour has revealed in National Apprenticeships Week.

New data collected through parliamentary questions shows 11 out of the 17 Departments which responded, have failed to meet the 2.3% target set in 2017.

Of those Departments failing to meet the target, seven were failing to meet it in 2019, while the Department for Housing Communities and Local Government which employed the most apprentices in 2019, has since lagged behind with apprentices making up just 1.4% of current staff.

Apprentices make up less than 1% of the Department for Culture, Media and Sports’ 900 staff and in the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs’ only 1% of 3,500 staff are apprentices.

The Government has overseen a sharp decline in apprentice numbers with 189,000 apprentice opportunities disappearing since 2016.  Despite introducing a cash incentive of either £2,000 or £1,500 for employers to take on a new apprentice, 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.

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“The Government has overseen a staggering decline in apprentice numbers since 2016. Ministers are failing to create opportunities within their own Departments, and their cash incentive is failing to encourage employers to take on new apprentices.

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