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20,000 apprenticeships should be earmarked for care leavers

Release Date: 18 Aug 2015

Barnardo's has urged the Government to reserve thousands of apprenticeships for ‘looked after’ 16-18 year olds who are in or leaving the [foster] care system.

Ahead of GSCE results day this week, Barnardo’s is calling on the Government to reserve 20,000 apprenticeships in England for 16-18 year olds from the [foster] care system to give them a fair chance of getting on the job ladder.

This follows the Government’s Summer Budget pledge to create three million new apprenticeships [1], and evidence that two in five existing places go to people already in work [2].

Recent unemployment figures show young people are three times more likely to be unemployed [3], with [foster] care leavers being twice as likely as others to be not in education, employment or training (NEET) [4].

Moving between family placements three or more times per year disrupts their education, so care leavers can struggle to perform well at school [5]. Less than half (37%) of care leavers pass five GCSEs at grades A*-C compared to other children [6]. Those results put the entry criteria for some apprenticeships out of reach.

Instead of apprenticeships depending on entry qualifications only, care leavers potential also needs to be taken into account. Intensive support throughout an apprenticeship would help them get the qualifications they need and go on to successfully establish a career.

Javed Khan, Barnardo’s Chief Executive, said:

“Young people leaving the care system have ambition and talents. They want to work, to be financially independent and contribute to the country’s economy.

“But too often, care leavers find the door to employment is closed. Getting an apprenticeship and proving themselves in work can open up the door to a successful career instead of a dependence on benefits.

“Young people are the future of Britain’s economy. They must be invested in and given the right support to get into work.”

Setting aside 20,000 places is less than one per cent of new apprenticeships. Around 10,000 young people leave care in England every year [7].

As an incentive to industry, the government could offer a larger payback to organisations placing young people from the care system into apprenticeships. This would capitalise on the growing apprenticeship market, the Government’s new apprenticeship levy and fits into plans of reducing youth unemployment and growing the country’s workforce.

More than 5,000 young people are participating in vocational skills and apprenticeship training run by Barnardo’s. Our 27 services in the UK provide young people with the tools to secure skilled, sustainable careers of their choice – regardless of their start in life.


Notes to editors                                  

Spokespeople and case studies available on request

[1] 3 million new apprenticeships will be created by 2020, funded by a levy on large employers. Firms that are committed to training will be able to get back more than they put in, (Government Summer Budget Announcements, 2015

[2] 42 per cent of apprenticeships went to people over the age of 24 since 2010. Of the total number of people participating in apprenticeships, 185,800 are undertaken by 16 – 19 year olds and 356,900 for over 25 year olds. (IPPR, Learner drivers: Local authorities and apprenticeships, 2015)

[3] The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for those aged 18-24 stands at 14.3%, which is 3.5 times more than the equivalent unemployment rate for those aged 25-64 (4.0%), ONS labour market statistics

[4] Department for Education, Care leaver strategy, 2013

[5] Department for Education, Care leaver strategy, 2013

[6] 37% of care leavers achieve 5 A*-C GCSEs, compared to 80% of other children (Department for Education, Care leaver strategy, 2013)

[7] Department for Education, Care leaver strategy, 2013

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