Labour accuses coalition of “downgrading” apprenticeships

Speaking on 4th February at a Commons opposition day debate on apprenticeships, shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said that the coalition government has “downgraded” apprenticeships and taken Britain “backwards” on productivity.

He said that the number of 19- to 24-year-olds starting an apprenticeship had fallen by more than 6,000 in the last year, and 19-24 apprenticeship starts were currently falling in every single region outside London.

He also accused the current government of “jiggery-pokery with the numbers” when referring to the two million apprenticeship starts, saying that many of these apprenticeships were existing on-the-job training.

To tackle the skills gap, Umunna said Britain was in need of a “major expansion” of high-quality vocational and technical education and apprenticeships in particular. Labour would bring apprenticeships back to “trusted gold standard” he said, lasting a minimum of two years and be level 3 qualifications.