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UK firms demand shake-up of ‘inflexible’ apprenticeship system | Education

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Business leaders are demanding a shake-up of the UK apprenticeship system, after official figures suggest the government will miss its target for new apprentices.

As National Apprenticeship Week gets underway on Monday, business groups are calling for changes to the system to give small businesses desperately-needed funding so they can take on and train more apprentices. Small firms play a critical role, as they offer nine out of 10 apprenticeships for 16- to 24-year-olds, according to the Federation of Small Businesses.

The latest government figures showed the number of people starting an apprenticeship in England fell to 125,800 between August and October, down 4.7% from 132,000 in the same quarter a year earlier (that number was up by 15.4% year-on-year).

This means that the number of people starting an apprenticeship since May 2015 has reached just over 2 million. During the general election campaign in May 2015, the Conservative party manifesto pledged to create 3m new apprenticeships by 2020, but if current trends continue, the government will miss this target.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We are investing significantly to level up skills and opportunity across the country and apprenticeships are playing a key role in this.

“We recognise there is more work to do and we are continuing to look at how the apprenticeship programme can best support the changing needs of businesses so more people can get ahead and all employers can…



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