Fit for the future: Growing and sustaining engineering and technology apprenticeships for young people

A 5-point plan to grow and sustain engineering and technology apprenticeships for young people

An inquiry led by Lord Knight and Lord Willetts

The UK finds itself navigating the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, leaving the EU, the cost-of-living crisis and climate change. Without an increase in the number and diversity of engineers and technicians, the UK lacks the capability to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face, from energy security through to sustainable farming. Apprenticeships are central to addressing current and future skills gaps.

Led by former Labour and Conservative ministers Lord Knight and Lord Willetts, in partnership with EngineeringUK, the inquiry seeks to uncover the reasons behind the worrying decline in engineering, manufacturing and technology apprenticeships starts seen over recent years in the UK. 

Despite a modest uptick in numbers last year, engineering-related apprenticeship starts in England are still 9% lower than in 2014/15. What’s more, the uptake varies by subject with a worrying 34% decline for engineering and manufacturing technologies. 

We set out to investigate what could be done to reverse the decline in apprenticeship starts over recent years and to achieve sustained growth in engineering, manufacturing and technology apprenticeship, particularly for young people

The report sets out a 5-point plan aimed at addressing the barriers and concerns identified by businesses, education providers and young people:

  • rebalance education - ensure that the secondary school system is fit for the future and there is genuine parity of esteem between technical and academic pathways
  • support young people - provide better support for young people throughout their apprenticeship journey and take decisive action to break down barriers
  • refocus funding - ensure long-term funding for apprenticeships at all levels and greater equity between vocational and academic routes
  • enable businesses - enable more SMEs to play an active role in apprenticeships. Work together with employers as well as providers to ensure that engineering and technology apprenticeship standards are given the strategic importance they merit and meet the skills needs of the sector
  • employers taking action - encourage employers to play their part in growing and sustaining apprenticeships for the future and to help widen opportunities for young people

Download the full report and read the executive summary.



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