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London apprenticeship numbers would need to increase by 570% to meet 'unrealistic' government target

LONDON boroughs would need to increase their creation of apprenticeships by more than 570% to meet “unrealistic” government targets, it has emerged.

Responding to the government’s Apprenticeship Funding Proposals, London Councils said current proposals for public sector apprenticeship targets would mean boroughs, which have created 4,834 apprenticeships via direct recruitment since 2009 (an average of 690 per year) would need to deliver 4,674 per year – an increase of 577%.  

The organisation, which represents all 32 boroughs and the City of London, said it was concerned the target is unrealistic.  It said a more achievable aim could be set that allows councils to count apprenticeships they generate through their supply chains and does not include grant-maintained local authority schools in the target - as councils are not responsible for recruitment activities or decisions at these schools.

Concerns were also raised about the proposed new way funding bands will be calculated, and that incentives to encourage more vulnerable people into apprenticeships do not provide adequate support to people with disabilities. London also receives extra cash to reflect the higher costs of providing training in the capital through an Area Cost Adjustment, which the government is proposing to scrap.

Cllr Peter John, London Councils’ executive member for children, skills and employment, said: “London boroughs are committed to increasing apprenticeship starts and opportunities and have a strong track record of supporting – and exceeding – apprenticeship targets.  But in order to capitalise on this, any target must be based on appropriate data and supported by all parties.

“As we have previously stated, we support the government’s plans to encourage apprentice recruitment, but it is unfair to include school employees in borough workforce headcounts when calculating the apprenticeship target. This doubles the target for councils, yet they cannot influence schools to create more apprenticeships. An unrealistically high target risks undermining the government’s ambition to create opportunities that benefit employers, apprentices and the economy.

“It is also vital that the current Area Cost Adjustment provided to London and the South East is maintained when calculating new funding bands. Without an adequate ACA, London would not be able to access the same level of resources as the rest of the country or provide an equivalent level of service. Wages are much higher in London, driven by the cost of living and particularly the higher cost of accommodation in the capital, so it is essential that the area cost uplift is maintained.”

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You can read the full London Councils response to the consultation here.