Recent research showed that the government’s proposed funding plan for apprenticeships from 2017 will cut funding rate by almost a third for 16 to 18-year-old apprentices. I am deeply concerned about the obstacles this will put in front of young people, the damage this will do to our economy, and the extra costs the taxpayer will have to bear in the long run.
Construction is an area of particular concern. Young apprentices in this sector will face a cut in funding rate by between 27 to 50 per cent.
The funding cuts to apprenticeships will also hit young people in deprived areas the most. Tory claims of meritocracy are no more than empty rhetoric.
I know how important high-quality apprenticeships are for young people in our area and for businesses too. I previously had the pleasure of meeting Stephen, a local apprentice with Carillion, who visited Westminster in July this year and shared with me how he gained the skills he needed through the programme.
At my last business breakfast with local small businesses, many raised with me that a skilled workforce was one of the most important concerns for them, and that there have not been enough high-quality apprenticeship programmes in the region to provide that.
On Monday 12 September 2016 at Defence Questions in parliament, I urged the Defence Minister to guarantee that apprenticeship funding will be protected.
I will continue to work with my union, GMB, to oppose these regressive and unfair cuts to the funding that our country’s young people deserve.
David Hulse, GMB National Officer said:
‘It is great to see MPs like Bridget Phillipson raising these important issues in parliament, major defence projects like building three new Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships should be seen as a fantastic opportunity to promote quality apprenticeships.
‘We should be investing in the shipbuilders of the future and help our industries grow by creating more skilled work, but the future of industries like shipbuilding are threatened if this government continues with its plans to cut funding for apprenticeships.’