Number of school leavers starting apprenticeships in Wealden has fallen by 24%

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The number of people starting apprenticeships in Wealden has fallen by 24.24% since 2015/16, House of Commons Library research analysed by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

It comes as the Conservative have announced a new policy to boost the number of apprenticeships despite a decline of 172,000 apprenticeship starts per year in England, a fall of over a third.

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The Liberal Democrats committed to increase pay for apprenticeships to at least the minimum wage and for the apprenticeship levy to be scrapped. This was introduced by the Conservative government in April 2017. Under current rules, firms with an annual wage bill of above £3m must set aside 0.5% of their payroll to apprenticeships.

Danielle Newson says the LibDems will make apprenticeships more attractive for trainees and companies.Danielle Newson says the LibDems will make apprenticeships more attractive for trainees and companies.
Danielle Newson says the LibDems will make apprenticeships more attractive for trainees and companies.

However, many organisations are unable to use the funds, where levy money is then reclaimed by the Treasury if remaining unused for two years. The resultant collapse in people starting apprenticeships is widening the skills shortages, and making it harder to encourage young people into the workforce.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson and Parliamentary Candidate for Sussex Weald, Danielle Newson said: “Young people across the country are being let down by a Conservative party that has failed to give them the opportunities they deserve and give businesses the flexibility they desperately need. They now promise more apprenticeships in future when the truth is numbers have seriously declined over the last eight years due to their mismanagement of apprenticeships.

“The declining number of people starting apprenticeships across the Wealden area shows just how badly broken this Conservative government has left our apprenticeship system.

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“Urgent reform is needed. That’s why the Liberal Democrats committed to increasing the apprenticeship wage to stop treating apprentices as second-class workers and to reform the apprenticeship levy to boost numbers and stop the decline we have seen under this Conservative government.”