There is no doubt that a skills revolution is well underway in the UK. The apprenticeship levy is already dramatically changing in-work training, while the new T-levels system will transform the face of vocational education in schools.
The government deserves full marks for the boldness of this radical programme of reform, which over time will go a long way to levelling the playing field between vocational and academic education.
However, when it comes to social mobility and ensuring the changes help the most disadvantaged young people, the government is at serious risk of failing the skills test. While the skills reforms will help many young people, there is a serious danger that the individuals who need this revolution the most will be excluded – the 800,000 young people in the UK who are currently not in education, employment or training (so-called NEETs).
The reality is that for various reasons, apprenticeships are simply out of reach for many young people. Frequently, they feel isolated from the labour market and can face personal barriers when trying to get into work, finding themselves trapped in the vicious cycle of ‘no experience, no job – no job, no experience’.
These are the young people that Movement to Work is fighting for by creating work placements as their first step on the journey into employment. We believe that if the government is going to achieve its ambition to create greater social mobility by helping the most disadvantaged, it must do more to get young people who are NEET into apprenticeships.