EEF warns of funding gap for modern apprentices

The newly launched National Modern Apprentice Taskforce must address the
funding shortfall companies face if they take on older apprentices, according
to the Engineering Employers’ Federation (EEF).

Ian Peters, EEF director of external affairs, said it is vital that funding
for modern apprentices aged 19 and above be improved if the taskforce is
serious about helping to address skills shortages.

At present, employers receive £14,560 in funding for 16-18-year olds to
cover part of the £50,000 cost of taking on modern apprentices, but only about
half this figure for 16-18-year-olds and there is no funding assistance at all
for over 24s.

Peters said that this lack of funding curtails the number of over 19-year-olds
who can be supported on modern apprenticeships and is a barrier to improving
workplace skills.

He also believes the Government’s target of getting 28 per cent of young
people in an apprenticeship by the age of 22 by 2004 is unreachable, unless
funding arrangements change.

"If the taskforce does only one thing, it should be to persuade the
Government to put funding for those modern apprenticeships over the age of 19
on an equal footing with those aged between 16 and 18.

"The total number of starters in training on Modern Apprentices
programmes is steadily declining at a time when we need to grow the apprentice
population from 6,500 starters in England Scotland and Wales to 10,000 by
2005," said Peters.

The National Modern Apprenticeship Taskforce, which was launched 10 days ago
to promote their use by industry, will be led by Sir Roy Gardner, chief
executive of Centrica and includes individuals from across industry and the
education and training sector.

Ben Willmott


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