Apprenticeships boost social mobility in ‘cold spot’ areas

apprenticeships social mobility
MP Justine Greening speaking at the launch of the Skills Tap report.

Apprenticeships should be seen as an opportunity to improve social mobility, increase productivity and develop a skilled workforce, according to a report backed by former education secretary Justine Greening MP.

The Skills Tap report, published by water supplier Severn Trent and campaign group the Social Mobility Pledge, states that apprenticeships help support people from all backgrounds into a rewarding career, especially young people from “cold spot” areas where opportunities are less readily available.

It claims that the social mobility benefits of apprenticeships become evident when looking at their salary outcomes. According to government figures, level 2 apprenticeships have the salary potential of between £48,000 and £74,000; between £77,000 and £117,000 for level 3; and £150,000 or more for those completing an apprenticeship at level 4 over their lifetime.

Skill Tap’s report states that offering apprenticeships has helped Severn Trent improve social mobility in Coventry, where it is headquartered. Many areas of the city are in the bottom half of the government’s social mobility index, which the report says gives it potential to improve outcomes for young people.

According to government figures, 83% of apprentices say it has improved their career prospects.

Severn Trent CEO Liv Garfield said: “We see apprenticeships as a crucial part of the solution to better social mobility. A third of the nation’s social mobility cold spots are in the communities we serve, so we have a great chance to make a real difference and create opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be there.

“Apprenticeships are vitally important to help young people get experience in the workplace, learn new skills, while earning and contributing to the workplace. It’s our responsibility to do more, to help those in society that need these chances in life.”

Greening, who founded the Social Mobility Pledge, said it was vital that the UK adopted a lifelong learning approach to meet future skills needs.

“Severn Trent is a great example of a company that totally gets that. It was inspiring to see how they can transform lives for the better and to meet some of the people who began their career as apprentices and have worked their way up,” she said.

Severn Trent will offer 13 different apprenticeship programmes in 2019/20, ranging from technicians to roles at higher apprenticeship levels.

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