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Apprentices: Social Mobility

Question for Department for Education

UIN 185415, tabled on 21 April 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction in apprenticeship starts at Levels 2 and 3 on social mobility in deprived areas.

Answered on

28 April 2021

We want to ensure that more people from disadvantaged backgrounds can undertake apprenticeships, particularly those that offer higher wage returns and progression opportunities, and we continue to look at how the programme is supporting those from deprived areas.

Employers decide which apprenticeships they offer and when in order to address their skills needs. High-quality apprenticeships at levels 2 and 3 remain an important part of our programme, supporting people from all backgrounds to gain the skills they need to begin or progress in their career. In the first half of 2020/21 academic year, there were 110,500 apprenticeship starts at levels 2 and 3 - over two-thirds of all starts in this period.

We are supporting more people from disadvantaged and under-represented backgrounds to access apprenticeships through our Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network of over 85 employers. The Network promotes best practice in recruiting and supporting apprentices from diverse backgrounds. In addition, our Apprenticeships Support and Knowledge programme supports schools across England to provide students from diverse backgrounds with information on apprenticeships.

Smaller employers play an important role in providing apprenticeship opportunities across the country, particularly for young people and those in deprived areas. To support more smaller employers to offer apprenticeships all SMEs can now reserve funding for up to 10 new apprenticeship starts in 2021-22 financial year. Employers of all sizes can also benefit from the increased incentive payment of £3000 for taking on an apprentice as a new employee.

Through our Plan for Jobs, we are also providing a range of support to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds access high-quality training to develop the skills, experience, and confidence to obtain an apprenticeship. We are supporting the largest-ever expansion of traineeships, providing funding for an additional 30,000 places in 2020/21 academic year, and we are working with the Department for Work and Pensions to enable Kickstart placements to turn into apprenticeships where that is the right thing for the employer and the young person. We have made a special provision to allow employers taking on Kickstarters as apprentices to be eligible for the incentive payment, supporting a pathway between the schemes.