There are serious barriers to young care leavers becoming apprentices according to a report written by the Centre for Social Justice for the Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, published today (4 August). Children in care and care leavers are not being encouraged or supported into apprenticeships, despite the fact that they provide vital routes into long-term employment.
Information gathered by the Children’s Commissioner from local authorities using her unique statutory powers to obtain data on children and young people shows that a far lower proportion of those who are in care and care leavers are on apprenticeship schemes than their peers in the general population. Around 3 in 100 of all young people in care aged 16-18 were on apprenticeships last year compared to around 10 in 100 of this age group in the general population.
The differences are more stark among young people who are not at university – only 3% of care leavers aged 19-21 who were not at university were on apprenticeships in 2015 compared with 24% of young people in this age group in the general population.
The data also shows wide variations between local authorities and regions. In some areas less than 1% of children in care were on apprenticeship schemes whilst in others, almost 1 in 4 (25%) were apprentices during 2014/15.
Almost one in five local authorities (18 out of 104) are estimated to have had less than less than 3% of their children in care or care leavers on apprenticeships.
Overall, the number of children in care and care leavers on apprenticeships in England has been increasing – from 34 per 1,000 children in 2013/14 to 44 per 1,000 children in 2014/15.
Although there have been improvements in recent years, only 6% of care leavers enter higher education, compared to 47% of the general population. Almost four in ten (38%) care leavers are not in education, employment or training (NEET), compared with just 11% of all young people.
Delivering a Care Leaver’s strategy for traineeships and apprenticeships, the report commissioned by the Centre for Social Justice for the Children’s Commissioner makes a series of recommendations that include:
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England says: “A high-quality apprenticeship can provide a solid foundation for a young person’s future by boosting their confidence, self-esteem, sense of worth and independence, and ultimately, their prospects of long-term employment. They provide an effective education and an important alternative route to employment for children who may not be going on to further or higher education. This is why I want local authorities to guarantee every care leaver who wants one, an apprenticeship that matches their aspirations.
“I warmly welcome the Government’s recent care leavers’ strategy which has great potential to help young people thrive when they leave care. Some local authorities do very well at supporting looked after children into the next phase of their lives and it is important that others learn from these.”