Last week, data showed the lowest number in a decade of people aged 16 to 19 who were not in employment, education or training. One NEET is too many, so traineeships will help young people gain the skills, attitudes and experience they need to get into an apprenticeship or a good job. They will combine substantial work placements and work skills training with English and maths and will help tackle the scourge of youth unemployment.
I thank the Minister for that answer. In Medway, the council-led SUCCES—or sustainable uplifting client centred employment support—initiative, which assists over-16s looking for work who have low skills and little experience, has been named as an example of best practice in Europe, helping more than 500 people. What plans does the Minister have to work with existing schemes and providers to deliver new traineeships?
I congratulate Medway council on its SUCCES initiative. Traineeships are being designed in a highly consultative way to support and enhance existing best practice not only from councils but from organisations such as the Prince’s Trust, which does brilliant work in this area. I am happy to look at the work that goes on in Medway and to ensure that what we do on traineeships supports it.
Of course, apprenticeships have been a huge success story and the number of 19 to 24-year-olds involved is rising sharply. We must ensure, too, that apprenticeships are rigorous and high quality, so we have taken steps to do that. I hope that the hon. Lady will join me next week, which is apprenticeships week, in celebrating apprenticeships. Every Member of this House has the opportunity to explain to everybody that apprenticeships are good for the apprentices, good for business and good for society as a whole.
23. Will my hon. Friend support the roll-out of the scheme initiated by the Department for Work and Pensions, which ensures that companies offering procurement contracts must hire apprentices? Will he ensure that the scheme, which has resulted in thousands more apprentices in the DWP, is rolled out across Government Departments? (145476)
I welcome investment in pre-apprenticeship training and preparation, but is the Minister not concerned about the accelerating decline in the number of apprenticeships available to 16 to 18-year-olds, which is down 7% from last year’s figure alone, and that the funding providers found a shortfall of £61 million in expenditure on that group last year? It is right and proper to invest in pre-apprenticeship training, but does he not agree that the bigger crisis is in whether those young people will have an apprenticeship to go on to?
The crisis would be if we did not improve the quality of apprenticeships, because they are vital in getting people into good jobs and ensuring that there is training in jobs. We took out some low-quality provision, which inevitably had an impact on the numbers, but that is a vital part of ensuring that apprentices are seen to be high quality and are regarded as such and that they are an attractive option for young people, adults and employers.