Reserve thousands of apprenticeships for care leavers, urges charity

September 9, 2015

PM Editorial, 18th August 2015

These young people have talent but ‘find door to employment closed’

Young people’s charity Barnado’s has urged the government to save 20,000 newly created apprenticeships for care leavers in a bid to support them into work.

The call to action comes as 16 to 18 year olds across the UK wait for their GCSE results and this number of reserved placements represents less than one per cent of the three million new apprenticeships pledged by the government.

Children who grow up in care often face challenges other young people do not such as moving between three or more family placements a year, Barnado’s said. This instability can disrupt their education and as a result these children do not do as well at school as their peers and need extra support.

They face a further barrier when they come to get their first step on the career ladder as many apprenticeship places require good GCSE results, however, only 37 per cent of young people who have been in foster care pass five GCSEs at grades A* to C compared to other children.

Government figures show that 10,000 16 to 18 year olds leave care in England every year.

The charity has called for selection processes to consider the potential care leavers have when judging their application for apprenticeships rather than simply looking at qualifications.

It also recommended that apprenticeships for children from the foster care system should include intensive support as this would help them get the qualifications they need to establish a sustainable career.

Under the current government proposals for new apprenticeships, large and medium employers will be taxed on the number of apprentices they take on, and then reimbursed to cover the costs.

Barnado’s recommended that as an extra incentive, the government could offer a larger payback to employers that offer placements to young people from the care system. It said that this would make the most of the growing apprenticeship market, the government’s new apprenticeship tax, and fit into plans of reducing youth unemployment and growing the country’s workforce.

Javed Khan, Barnardo’s chief executive, said: “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 Department for Education spokesperson 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 to 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.”

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