Youth Education Act 2011, the Apprenticeship, Skills, Children

Youth unemployment (under 25 years of age) in the United
Kingdom has risen from 13% to 19% between the years of 2007-2009 and is
continuously rising in comparison to the 8% of current youth unemployment in
countries such as Austria, Denmark and Japan (Breen, 2005). This has become a
growing concern with the British government, taking action through reforming
education and further prioritising apprenticeships. An apprenticeship is a paid
job, which provides practical training alongside education and once completed,
if successful receive a qualification in accordance to the specific trade. With
aims of increasing young people’s employability skills and establishing routes
into the workplace, the government has the objective of reducing youth
unemployment (Scarpetta et al., 2010).

 

Previously before the Education Act 2011, the Apprenticeship,
Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 was in place establishing the national
apprenticeship service. This scheme intended to arrange apprenticeship
placements for all young people aged 16-19, who have the required secondary
school qualifications in order to proceed into specific trades. The reason the
labour government wants to expand apprenticeships to young people is due to the
majority of apprenticeships being targeted at adults (Ryan, 2012). Nevertheless,
this was not regarded feasible for two reasons. One being that it is beyond the
capacity of the government to provide placements for all of the young people
wishing to apply for apprenticeships. Secondly, the government could not
enforce employers to enrol people as part of an apprenticeship. The Apprenticeship,
Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 was abolished and replaced with the
Education Act 2011, prioritising young people whom have already secured an
apprenticeship. Additionally the Education Act 2011 provides funding towards
apprenticeships, with first claim of funding going to young people (Ryan, 2012).

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This essay will be reviewing the apprenticeship policy within
the Education Act 2011. This will be demonstrated through exploring the impact
of apprenticeships on young people in relation to socio-economic factors and looking
at the economic growth on a global scale in comparison. Specifically focusing
on the Germany’s approach to apprenticeships and evaluating how the United
Kingdom adopts some of the methods used.

 

In order to upsurge employment within the economy the
apprenticeship policy attempts to strengthen education equality, according to Emerson and Hatton (2008) only 6% of people
with disabilities are currently employed in the United Kingdom. Therefore,
the British government faces challenges of enabling inclusivity and
accessibility to all social classes and disadvantaged groups for instance,
learning difficulty, disability, race and gender identity. The Skills Funding
Agency, as part of the apprenticeship policy, created a guide for providers of
the workforce on how to engage disabled learners and employees that have
qualifications below Level 2 into place of work. Although not compulsory, this
guide advises inclusivity within the workplace with such as promoting available
support and tailoring provision around employees with learning difficulties and
disabilities (Barnes and Mercer, 2005).

 

Poverty is an economic crisis, heavily affecting young people
concerning employment; particularly with working-class. Approximately 2.7 million
people aged 14-24 in the United Kingdom are affected by poverty, which is
classified if income after tax and housing is under 60% of the household (McEnhill
and Taylor-Goobey, 2017). Specifically at young people aged between 20-24 years,
poverty has risen 6% within the last ten years, which is the biggest increase
among other age groups. With young people whom do not live with their parents
having a higher poverty rate in comparison to those who do, with one of the
reasons of this being due to rent. The result of this infers that there is an
increase of the disadvantages within the labour market and the majority of
young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have not attained a minimum of five
GCSE’s (Mann et al., 2017).  

 

Additionally, the minority of young people within this
category have achieved under five GCSE’s and in some cases, no GCSE’s at all. This
affects young people, with poverty directly relating to poor mental and
physical health due to deprivation of basic needs such as food, heating and stress
over work, wages and rent (Schmid and Gazier, 2002). From a geographical
perspective depending on the area they live in young people in deprived
locations are at risk of educational disadvantages. Poorly maintained areas may
influence the ability of children to participate in educational opportunities
for instance, poor public transportation could possibly restrict young people’s
surroundings and future prospects. Psychologically poverty can affect young
people’s self-esteem, deteriorating their confidence due to awareness of their
current financial and economic situation. This may outcome in consequences of
lower expectations of school and career opportunities, with young people from a
low income household less likely to go to university (Crawford, 2014). However,
apprenticeships are seen to be part of a crucial process in addressing social
inequality and rebuilding the economy. Young people taking apprenticeships into
consideration, believing it can result in a more positive outcome of providing
an income whilst receiving an education and qualification (De Coulon, 2017). Furthermore,
apprenticeships are also viewed as an alternative route to university,
diminishing the stigma behind university being the sole route of career
success.

 

With apprenticeships being conventionally directed at lower
class social groups, situated in occupational fields that require minimal
qualifications, this is intended to raise economic growth. Research implies
that this policy has benefitted the United Kingdom providing £34 billion
towards the economy and raising recruitment of young people into the workforce.
The government aims to increase apprenticeships among young people with the
current employment being 900,000 to 3 million by 2020 (McNally and Wyness, 2017).

 

Nevertheless, there are disadvantages of apprenticeships
that may deter young people from applying, due to the scheme paying young
people below minimum wage and that there is no guarantee of full-time
employment (Schumann, 2017). For young people that are independent this might
insufficient and with the uncertainty of being employed after completion of the
apprenticeship might be deemed as too high of a risk.

 

In order to improve apprenticeships for young people, firstly,
Britain needs to address the underlying issues with the current apprenticeship
policy. Primarily, under the influence of the conservative leadership
apprenticeships for young people have deteriorated, as the government has
reduced the length of time necessary for training leading to affecting the
quality of training given (McNally and Wyness, 2017). Previously
apprenticeships required a minimum of three years which has now been reduced to
twelve months, with one in five apprenticeships not receiving on and off job
training and 29% of people in apprenticeships receiving less pay than they are
entitled to (Crisp, 2017).  Although
there are, many apprenticeships targeted for young people requiring minimal
qualifications, there is very little apprenticeships available for young people
with high level education resulting in this industry being highly competitive.
This not only affects young people but also business firms, as they are limited
to employing people with the skills that they require for the job. Studies have
found that small and medium businesses are creating jobs at a faster rate in
comparison to larger firms, however only a quarter of small and medium corporations
offer apprenticeships (Storey, 2016).

 

One of the reasons this is suggested to be is because of the complexity
of apprenticeship procedures businesses have to apply through, often deterring
many small businesses. Moreover, employers have also stated that they would
become more involved with apprenticeships if the qualifications are more
directly in relation to the work skills necessary for specific job role
(Storey, 2016). Initially in order for improvements to begin, it is imperative
to prioritise in increasing apprenticeships. Also suggested by the Labour
Skills Taskforce is that employers should maintain more control over funding
and standards of apprenticeships. In return, the employers should create apprenticeships
available for young people with qualifications of level three and above (De
Coulon, 2017). Furthermore including transferable qualifications with at least
of two years of training and a minimum of one day out of the week of
off-the-job training, necessary for providing a higher quality apprenticeship.

 

The unemployment rate of young people in Germany in July 2017
stands at 6.5% (Brzinsky-Fay, 2017), which
is significantly lower to that of the United Kingdom that the statistics for
the unemployment of young people in July 2017 is at a staggering 11.8%. Moreover,
the rate of which school-leavers going into apprenticeships is a dramatic gap
in comparison to Germany and the United Kingdom with an estimation of 50% of German
children undergoing vocational training through the dual system (Beicht and
Walden, 2017). Whilst only 26% of secondary school leavers applying for
apprenticeships in the United Kingdom. Schooling leading up to apprenticeships
in Germany is vastly different from to that of the heavily structured, curriculum-based
teaching of the United Kingdom. German children at the age of ten years are
given the options of following a path of either vocational training or academic
high school and with the flexibility of doing something in-between these
options to suit their needs (Nickell and Bell, 1996). These paths are not cemented
as being the only route to take once chosen, as there are opportunities for
young people to change career paths if they decide that they no longer want to
continue on their current route. Young people in Germany are given the option
to go back into school to specialise in a specific area, or apply to an
apprenticeship programme through a company and the option of earning a master
craftsman certificate (Nickell and Bell, 1996).

 

German apprenticeships is also known as the duel training
scheme. The duel training scheme is strictly influenced under the German
Federal Government and companies, aiming for young people to achieve a recognised
qualification in direct relation to the occupation chosen (Tremblay and Le Bot,
2000). The federal state plays a big role in adapting training for private
companies to ensure the curriculum is consistent on a national level, learning
the same skills in a routinely order on same timetable. Additionally the
government provides funding to companies for apprenticeships, ranging from
$25,000-$80,000. This ensures that the apprentice is given structured practical
training in conjunction with their education (Tremblay and Le Bot, 2000). This
is beneficial for trainees as they are taught more than one method, having the
chance of switching jobs if they desire. Thus, enabling higher quality
apprenticeship programmes, essential for improving young people’s opportunities
within the labour market.  

 

Although the German duel system is recognised as a success across
Europe, it has some drawbacks, which can be improved upon (Tremblay and Le Bot,
2000). The majority of the success is solely focused on high achieving
apprenticeships, disregarding young people that are considered as low-achievers,
including young people with disabilities. Regarding the matter of having a
government closely involved with the structure of apprenticeships, this can be
of a disadvantage due to the time it takes for German companies to create new
apprenticeship courses. Approval of a new apprenticeship course may take a
couple of years, as consultations are necessary with local governments,
organisations and unions.    

 

The United Kingdom could incorporate many ideas
from the German duel system in order to improve upon the apprenticeship policy
currently in place. Conversely, the duel system does not represent the whole
social class which could result in being a further disadvantage for younger
people of a lower social class.  

 

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