Bristol employers and young people let down on apprenticeships plan

SW regional Conference Nov 2015Employers and young people in south Bristol are being let down by the government’s failure to explain how it will deliver on a pledge to create new apprenticeships in the city, says a local MP.

Home to some of the most economically deprived wards in the country, Bristol South sends fewer of its young people to university than anywhere in the UK. In a new article for the Labour List blog the area’s MP Karin Smyth says “good quality apprenticeship and training opportunities are vital for our young people.”

She explains her support for a government promise to create three million new apprenticeships by 2020 because “extending opportunities for young people comes above party politics”. But she highlights how a Ministerial pledge to provide detail of how small and medium sized businesses in Bristol South can get involved has been broken.

“I welcomed the government’s three million pledge, and promised to do all I can to support its implementation,” says Karin Smyth.

In March, concerned about the lack of a government delivery plan, the Labour MP challenged Skills Minister Nick Boles to explain the details. “We do have a lot of questions that we need to answer,” he acknowledged. “If those questions have not been answered fulsomely in the month of April I shall be severely disappointed.”

Karin Smyth says that like local businesses, families, colleges and other training providers she has been waiting for progress since March. “Sadly we have been let down,” she says.

“Ministers have still failed to issue any meaningful guidance to small and medium sized enterprises.”

She says the detail is “needed not just by businesses and providers up and down the country, but by young people and their families who deserve to know how skills opportunities will unfold for them in the months and years ahead.

“SMEs in Bristol and elsewhere are left hanging until the winter, unable to make any credible future apprenticeship and training plans,” she adds. “And with many young people hoping for an apprenticeship in September following a batch of summer assessment results, it looks as though any substantial new opportunities for SMEs triggered by the levy will not be able to kick off until autumn 2018 at the earliest.”

“The apprenticeship challenge for SMEs is very different to that facing large business. It’s as if Ministers don’t understand this.

“I remain determined to do all I can to help improve the quality, quantity and variety of apprenticeship opportunities for my constituents. And I still support the government’s pledge.

“Because it matters so much to the people I represent, I want the government to get on with it. But the need for action is now more urgent than ever.”

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