Pandemic | Spike in number of apprentices made redundant

Spike in number of apprentices made redundant

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, one area of the workforce that has seen vast cuts to overall numbers is apprenticeships.

According to data which the BBC received under the Freedom of Information Act, redundancy levels among apprentices are two-thirds higher than in the same period in 2019.

The data found that between March and July, 1,033 people in England were withdrawn from apprenticeship programmes because they had been made redundant. This compares to 615 for the same period in 2019, although the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) did note that the total number of apprentices made redundant within the UK would be ‘significantly’ higher than those figures depicted.

Worryingly, the number of redundancies seems to be growing at a steady rate, despite Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s measures to support those in schemes, including salary support and the recent ‘Kickstart Scheme’, which provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit.

In October, a survey by the Sutton Trust found that 12% of apprentices in Britain had been made redundant – a figure which is up from eight per cent in April.

The data found that a further eight per cent were on furlough, and 35% had been furloughed, but were now back at work. 15% had remained at work but had been unable to continue off-job training due to suspension.

With regards to the UK as a whole, July to September saw a drastic increase and a 'record number' of redundancies, to 314,000, according to official figures released by the ONS.

Speaking to the BBC, Gillian Keegan, Apprenticeships Minister, told the publication that redundancy is “always a risk when you have got this sort of disruption in your economy so we were very focused very early on to do as much as we could to support and protect apprentices."

That support includes 'allowing apprentices to be furloughed, and continue their training while not working, moving to online study if need be'. As part of the Government's measures against further redundancy, from August to January, employers will get a £2,000 grant for each apprentice under 25 they hire, and £1,500 for older apprentices.

Internships 'collapsed on back of pandemic'

But it seems that it is not just apprenticeships that are taking a hit.

In a previous interview with HR Grapevine, Joe Wiggins, Glassdoor Career Trends Expert, explained that internships had collapsed “off the back of the pandemic”.

He added: “It makes for grim reading for anyone graduating this year, with competition higher than ever for those coveted slots. So many careers will simply have to be put on hold while there are far fewer opportunities to gain valuable experience."

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