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YOUNG people from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to start the best apprenticeships than their well-off peers, a new report has found.
Just 7 per cent of young men and 11 per cent of young women who were eligible for free school meals have since taken up an advanced level apprenticeship, compared to 14 per cent overall, the Sutton Trust said yesterday.
Fewer than one in four young people in England starting a level 2 apprenticeship progressed to a level 3 one, due to insufficient training and access to skilled work.
And those starting an apprenticeship are more likely to be white and speak English as a first language.
There is also a stark difference in earnings — by the time they are 28, men who take a Level 3 apprenticeship might expect to earn up to a third more than their peers who left education after achieving A-levels. For women the figure is just 9 per cent.
The think tank is calling for better access and quality, plus adequate funding.
Currently, employers with an annual wage bill of more than £3 million pay a £15,000 levy, which was aimed at increasing the number of apprentices — but since it was introduced by the government last December there have been 59 per cent fewer applications.
University and College Union general secretary Sally Hunt said: “It’s increasingly clear that the government’s pursuit of its three million apprenticeships target is coming at the expense of quality and choice within the system, and that this is having a real impact on outcomes for young people in particular.
“Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach which incentivises businesses to push existing employees into apprenticeships, the government should expand the apprenticeship levy to include other forms of high-quality workforce training.”
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