London Boroughs brand apprenticeship plan ‘unrealistic’

London Councils, the body that represents local authorities in the capital, has questioned the realism of the government’s stated apprenticeship targets.

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.’

John’s comments came after London Boroughs announced that the capital’s boroughs have created 4,834 new apprenticeships through direct recruitment since 2009—an average of 690 per year. Extrapolating that over the next three years would see a significant shortfall in numbers, way below the target. Indeed to meet the targets authorities would have to increase the numbers to almost 5000 a year – an increase of 577%.

‘We support the government’s plans to encourage apprentice recruitment, but it is unfair to include school employees in borough workforce head counts when calculating the apprenticeship target,’ Cllr John said.

‘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.’


Vital to maintain Area Cost Adjustment

One of the keystones of the government’s drive to increase apprentice numbers is the Area Cost Adjustment, a measure that should ensure that London authorities get extra cash to reflect higher cost of living in the capital, but there has been rumours of its abolition. Cllr John says he’s concerned that might further hinder efforts to drive up numbers.

“‘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,’ he said.

‘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.’