Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Increase in Modern Apprenticeships

Last week’s budget from the Scottish Government included a welcome increase in the number of Modern Apprenticeship places that are available in Scotland.  The number of Modern Apprenticeships was raised by 25% from 20,000 to 25,000.  

Modern Apprenticeships are the key access points of the labour market for young people who are not going on to full time further or higher education, yet it does not reflect the demographics of the Scottish population.  

Only 27% of 16-25 year olds on Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland are women, 0.6% are disabled and BME people account for only 0.9% of apprentices.

The latest unemployment figures show the rise in the youth unemployment in Scotland for the last quarter has been driven by the rise in unemployed young women. The rate is five times higher for young women than young men: 5.9% for women compared to just 0.8% for men.

Attracting women to the Modern Apprenticeship Programme is only part of the solution.  The programme is heavily segregated by gender, leading to long-term economic problems associated with occupational segregation.  Increasing the representation of women in ‘non-traditional’ frameworks will go some way to plug the skill gaps and shortages expected in many of Scotland’s key economic sectors, such as engineering.  It will also ensure that a demand-led labour market can utilise skills from the widest pool of talent. Therefore, this will ensure sustainable economic growth and at the same time, address long-term unemployment that many young women (and men) will face.

Unions have a crucial role to play in ensuring that the barriers that prevent full access and participation in the Modern Apprenticeships Programme for young women are addressed.  Furthermore, the low participation from BME young people and disabled young people is worrying, as is the lack of information available on the uptake of apprenticeships from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people. Unions need to ensure that employers are encouraging participation from all sections of the community and that all young people can access Modern Apprenticeship opportunities.

Useful links:

Tommy Breslin - Scottish Union Learning

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