Apprenticeships are a great way into the world of work for people who want to learn skills ‘on the job’, writes Gloria De Piero MP.
They have long been billed as an alternative step on the career ladder to the traditional path of A-levels and university degree.
However I have concerns that young people in Ashfield are not being given the opportunity to enrol on the top-quality apprenticeships.
I submitted a written Parliamentary question asking about the number of apprenticeships in Ashfield that were started at different levels.
The answer that came back was disappointing.
Only 13 per cent of apprenticeships started in Ashfield between August 2018 and January 2019 were level four, or higher level, apprenticeships, compared to 18 per cent in the whole of England.
Just over 43 per cent of apprenticeships started in Ashfield were at level three (advanced), while another 43 per cent were also at level two (intermediate).
Figures from the Department for Education state that the average annualised earnings five years after training were £26,700 for level four apprenticeships, £21,000 for level three and £17,900 for level two.
My fear is that young people in Ashfield will be trapped in lower-wage employment in the future because there are not enough level four apprenticeships on offer locally.
This will especially be the case when coupled with the fact that last year, just 16.5 per cent of 18-year-olds in Ashfield started university – the fourth lowest out of all 650 Parliamentary constituencies.
It is clear that more needs to be done by the Government to make sure that there are more opportunities for young people here to study higher level apprenticeships.
The best way to bring good jobs, wealth and ambition to Ashfield, is for the workforce here to be skilled and educated to a level that will attract employers.