Skip to main content

Employment Support: Young People

Volume 583: debated on Thursday 26 June 2014

7. What additional funding for training his Department has provided to support unemployed people and people aged 16 to 24 to get into employment. (904474)

We have record numbers participating in apprenticeships, new traineeships, maths and English training, which, with the record number of jobs, have contributed to a 98,000 fall in youth unemployment over the last year. We are simplifying vocational education and today publishing a simple slide showing young people their education options between the ages of 14 and 18.

I have a BAE Systems plant at Samlesbury in my constituency, and my hon. Friend the Member for Fylde (Mark Menzies) has one in Warton. BAE Systems took on a record number of apprentices last year, giving young people an opportunity to learn new skills to use in highly paid jobs when they are later taken on. What are the Government doing to encourage many more smaller firms to understand that apprenticeships can also benefit them?

I pay tribute to the work that BAE Systems does with its apprenticeships. It not only has hundreds of apprentices, many of whom I have met, but offers more and more higher apprenticeships, which provide the very best available training on the job. We have to make sure that smaller businesses get the message that apprenticeships can help them too; in fact, the majority of apprentices are in smaller businesses. We have made the apprenticeship grant for employers focused on smaller businesses to help them with the extra costs they have in taking on apprentices.

15. When are the Government going to put an emphasis on quality apprenticeships? Why do we need 47 different streams of funding for skills generally? When are we going to sort out on-the-job training from actual apprenticeships? Are the Government lumping on-the-job training into the figures for apprenticeships, when apprenticeships are totally different? (904488)

No, the figures for apprenticeships show the number of apprenticeships. They also show that we are on track to achieve 2 million apprenticeships in this Parliament—in fact, figures published at 9.30 this morning show that there have been 1.8 million apprenticeships since the election. We are simplifying the funding structures and putting more money through employers, so that they can buy the apprenticeship training they need.

I believe that the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the right hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Michael Fallon), and I are both due to attend the Royal London Society for Blind People’s youth forum launch of “Let’s Work It Out”, which seeks to identify the barriers to visually impaired young people getting into employment. What more can the Government do to encourage employers to see the potential of visually impaired young people and to make them more aware of the technological assistance that can enable them to function in the workplace?

Making sure that those who are visually impaired can fulfil their potential in the workplace is a vital part of the training we support. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State is the president of the organisation that the hon. Lady mentions. Apprenticeships are one option, and there are specific mechanisms to ensure that those who are visually impaired can complete an apprenticeship, but more broadly we need to make sure that the whole skills system works as much for those with disabilities as for those who are fully able.