Apprenticeships are for all ages, says minister

Apprenticeships should be the first choice for adults looking to re-skill, enterprise and skills minister Matthew Hancock said today.

Mon, 23 Jun 2014Apprenticeships should be the first choice for adults looking to re-skill, enterprise and skills minister Matthew Hancock said today.

“Expanded, all-age apprenticeships offer an enormously powerful vehicle for both adults and young people to be able to retool, retrain and reconnect with the world of work,” Hancock told the annual conference of Unionlearn, the TUC’s learning and skills organisation, at Congress House, London.

Hancock, the minister of state at the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, said: “We must do everything we can to create a better skills system that gives everyone the chance to aspire and achieve,” he said. “Those who lost their jobs in the recession through no fault of their own. Women – and men – who took time out from their careers to start a family. Those trapped on welfare and written off as unemployable.”

The government’s signal that apprenticeships are for all ages follows criticism that older people have been taking places some see as being intended only for school leavers.

Hancock said the government’s £15m of funding for Unionlearn will continue in 2014-15 and the £210m annual community learning budget was also being protected “even though finances remain tight”.

The government was rewriting the apprentice rulebook, he said, by “condensing hundreds of pages of complex, messy frameworks to a two-page description of the skills and attitudes employees should demonstrate in a particular industry and how they should be assessed”. There would also be more rigorous testing and grading.

“The result? Taking an apprenticeship is becoming the new norm for school leavers, and top apprenticeships are as coveted as top university places among some of our brightest and most ambitious young people,” Hancock said. “I want them to also become the first choice for adults looking to re-skill.”

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