It’s official: public sector apprenticeships target set at 2.3 per cent

It's official: public sector apprenticeships target set at 2.3 per cent

The government has confirmed that at least 2.3 per cent of the workforce in public sector bodies in England will have to be apprentices, in a move requiring that 200,000 more will have to be recruited by 2020.

The target was provisionally aired a year ago, as part of a consultation on how large a role public bodies should play in meeting the government’s overall target of creating 3 million new apprenticeship starts by 2020.

The Department for Education has now confirmed 2.3 per cent as the minimum requirement in their response to the consultation.

Skills minister Robert Halfon (pictured) announced that this would effectively mean setting the public sector a target of recruiting 200,000 more apprentices by 2020, although this won’t apply to FE colleges.

“We are committed to breaking down barriers and creating a ladder of opportunity for people everywhere,” he said.

“For our public sector to be the very best in the world, we need talented and ambitious people of all ages and from every background.

“Businesses across the country have well and truly got behind apprenticeships.

“Now it is time to ensure the public sector reaps the benefits of apprenticeships and young people get the opportunities they deserve.”

FE Week exclusively revealed last January that any public sector apprenticeship target won’t apply to colleges.

The DfE confirmed it remains the case that FE colleges are not included because they are not defined by the Office for National Statistics as exclusively public.

The target is being championed by the civil service, which has pledged an “unprecedented increase” in apprentices, to achieve 30,000 apprenticeship starts in England by 2020.

“Setting these expectations for larger employers in the public sector is essential to give people the skills they need to succeed and enable public sector employers to deliver the skilled workforce for the future,” the DfE has said.

Last year’s nine question consultation paper explained that “as a starting point for determining an appropriate target for public sector organisations”, the government had “taken the current proportion of public sector workers in the total workforce in England (16.2 per cent)”.

“We would, therefore, expect the public sector to deliver 16.2 per cent of 3 million apprenticeship starts,” it added.

It explained the plan was for all but around 30 of the 354 local authorities, all police and Armed Forces, and the vast majority of fire and rescue services would have to hit the target.

It was planned that other large bodies including Network Rail, London Underground, the BBC, Sellafield, Post Office, City of London, Bank of England, Financial Ombudsman Service, and the Financial Conduct Authority would also be covered.

UPDATE: The government response to their consultation has now been published, which describes a number of bodies that, despite being defined by the ONS as public sector, will be excluded from the target. These include:

> BBC and Channel 4
> Post Office
> ‘Financial institutions’ – FE Week is seeking further clarity here
> Houses of Parliament, because “they are not subject to control or direction of ministers”