Just one in 20 employers offers an apprenticeship place, government statistics have revealed.
Figures from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) show that apprenticeship places have more than doubled in the past decade to reach 184,000 in 2006-07. But skills secretary John Denham has said this is not enough if every suitable school leaver is to be offered the chance to work as an apprentice by 2013.
Denham said that in five years he wants every school leaver who has achieved basic maths and english skills (Level 1) to have the right to an apprenticeship.
DIUS is expected to publish an Apprenticeship Bill today which will set out how the government plans to increase the number of apprenticeships available.
Denham said: “Over the past decade we have more than doubled the number of young people and adults starting apprenticeships, spanning the breadth of our economy from accountancy to engineering, construction to veterinary nursing.
“But we plan to do more. In the next decade all qualified school leavers will have the right to an apprenticeship. It will become a typical choice for young people and adults – at the same time ensuring that businesses get the vital skills they need.”
Meanwhile junior skills minister David Lammy launched a taskforce yesterday (Monday) to expand the numbers of apprenticeship places offered by London’s employers.
There are currently fewer apprenticeship opportunities per head for Londoners than in almost any other part of England, with particular problems of under-representation among ethnic minorities. London saw only 11,090 apprentices start in 2006-07, just 6% of the total number of apprenticeships offered, compared to 32,210 in the North-West, a region with a similar-sized population.
In Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East there are five apprentices per 1,000 head of population, while in London there are only one-and-a-half apprentices per 1,000.
The Taskforce will work with employers to encourage them to open up their apprenticeships to the increasingly diverse workforce of the future.
Lammy said: “We need to meet the demand for skills in London that really should be met by Londoners. Sectors like construction and retail, as well as our public services are crying out for high quality staff, so there is no excuse for not exploiting the apprenticeships route to meeting skills needs.”