Lord Knight and Lord Willetts launch ambitious plan to get more young people into apprenticeships

Oct 16, 2023

5-point plan to grow engineering and technology apprenticeships 

Former Labour and Conservative ministers Lord Knight and Lord Willetts, with support from EngineeringUK, have launched Fit for the future: a 5-point plan to grow and sustain engineering and technology apprenticeships

The cross-party plan has been developed after a comprehensive inquiry looking for solutions to reverse the worrying decline in apprenticeship starts seen in the sector over recent years.  This is essential given the critical importance of engineering and technology for the UK and the sector’s growing workforce needs.

Based on insights gathered from businesses, education providers and young people, the report contains 5 key policy recommendations for all political parties to consider. It calls on government, along with employers and providers, to work together as a matter of urgency, to rebalance and refocus apprenticeships to make them accessible for young people.   

Lord Knight, Inquiry co-chair and former Labour Education and Employment Minister, said:
“Despite 20 years of reviews and reform, Britain is lagging behind our competitors in developing the skilled workforce we need to engineer a prosperous future.  This failure to better link schools and skills wastes the great potential of our young people. I hope this bold and practical set of recommendations will be listened to by policymakers and practitioners and finally fix this problem.”  

Lord Willetts, Inquiry co-chair and former Conservative Minister for Universities and Science, said:
“Engineering is key for the British economy. Engineering apprentices and university graduates enjoy some of the higher earnings of any group. This report shows how we can encourage a wider range of young people into engineering and provide them with more opportunities for education and training. We hope our report will be drawn on by all the political parties."  

The inquiry makes recommendations across 5 key areas:   

  • Inquiry calls for rebalancing of secondary education  
  • Decisive action is needed to break down barriers and support young people  
  • Long-term funding needs to be assured for apprenticeships at all levels  
  • More SMEs need to be enabled to play an active role in apprenticeships  
  • Employers to be encouraged to help grow and sustain apprenticeships  


Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, said:
“For engineering and technology to thrive, we urgently need more people and more diversity in our workforce. Apprenticeships offer a fantastic route for young people into rewarding and purposeful engineering and tech jobs, so it’s vital that they are fit for purpose. The recommendations in this report present practical actions for government, employers and sector organisations to improve the esteem, accessibility, structure, and funding and, ultimately, uptake of apprenticeships.”    

Read the 5-point plan  



Image © University of Southampton


< Back to News & Views