John urges Government to do more after drop in apprenticeships

The Government has been urged to do more after new figures showed a 15 per cent drop in apprenticeships in Wentworth and Dearne last year.

Data revealed by Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey during National Apprenticeship Week (3-7 March) showed the fall was most marked among under 19s, 17 per cent down in the constituency in 2012/13 compared to 2011/12.

In Rotherham it was nearly 19 per cent lower.

2012/13 is the first year apprenticeships have fallen for all ages from the preceding year in England since 2005. There are 25,000 fewer apprentices starting than there were last year.

The biggest reduction – nearly 7 per cent or 4,300 apprenticeships – was in Yorkshire.

The drop was -7.5 per cent in Barnsley and -7.9 per cent in Rotherham.

Last year Mr Healey employed an apprentice, 20-year-old Charlotte Pocklington from Swinton, in his constituency office.

He said: “It is extremely disappointing to see apprenticeships in our area going down, after so many years of increases.

“More than 900,000 young people are out of work but David Cameron has put the apprenticeship programme into reverse.

“The Government needs to do more to help firms create the apprenticeship opportunities young people desperately need.”

The number of apprenticeship starts rose from 65,000 in 1996/97 to 279,000 in Labour’s final year in office, 2009/10.

Labour wants to boost apprenticeship opportunities by requiring companies bidding for larger contracts to offer apprenticeships, but the Government has refused to do this and voted down a Labour motion to make it happen.

Labour has also pledged to build on the work of its independent Skills Taskforce and create a new universal standard for apprenticeships so they are qualifications employers and young people can trust.