Reserve apprenticeships for care leavers, asks national charity

Barnardo’s has urged the government to withhold 20,000 apprenticeships for 16- to 18-year-olds when they leave the care system, claiming that an apprenticeship can ‘‘can open up the door to a successful career instead of a dependence on benefits.’’

The government’s Care Leaver Strategy estimates that around 10,000 young people leave care every year. The charity says that their potential should be assessed rather than simply their attainment, in an effort to redress the inequalities experienced by children in care.

An independent review by the Prison Reform Trust recently found that children aged between ten and 17 in care are five times more likely to get into trouble with the police.

Chancellor George Osborne’s July budget vowed to create three million new apprenticeships by 2020, and it’s a share of these opportunities that Barnardo’s wants the government to reserve for care leavers.

Javed Khan, Barnardo’s chief executive, commented: “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.”

A DfE spokesman said: “We are improving the lives of care leavers and helping them make a successful transition to adulthood. A good apprenticeship can help support this, and that is why we’re fully funding apprenticeships training for eligible care leavers aged 19-23.

“We have also changed the law so young people can live with their foster family after they turn 18, and given every child who leaves care a personal adviser.”