The Guardian view on apprenticeships: failing the young | Editorial

By turning their attention to the muddle surrounding on-the-job training, ministers could prove ‘levelling up’ is more than a slogan

That the government’s apprenticeships programme in England is in trouble is generally accepted, even if it is not widely enough known. While the particular problem most likely to catch the government’s attention is probably funding, since the scheme as currently organised is predicted to go bust, issues surrounding the low quality and patchy regulation of the whole system are arguably even more important.

Low productivity in the UK has long been a problem, and the period since the 2008/09 crash has been particularly bad. In December, the Royal Statistical Society made the average annual increase over the past decade – just 0.3% – its statistic of the 2010s. Understood as an effect of skills shortages, this is the problem that apprenticeships were supposed to solve. That the plan isn’t working is damaging to the economy as a whole, as well as to the people and businesses that apprenticeships are designed to support.

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