The Conservative manifesto has repeated the pledge from 2015 to “deliver our commitment to create 3 million apprenticeships for young people by 2020.”

This target description remains at best grossly misleading, and now they’re repeating it two years later, I think it’s fair to call this a lie.

Why? Because in reality they are aren’t only counting “young people”.

Last year just one in four apprentice starts (26 per cent) were under 19, compared to nearly half (44 per cent) aged 25 or over.

In fact, last year nearly a quarter (23.8 per cent) of apprenticeship starts were aged 35 and over, of which 3,560 of them were aged 60 and over.

All these adults (the majority of apprentices and likely not new in jobs) are being counted towards the 3 million target, despite maintaining a manifesto commitment to 3 million apprentice starts for “young people”.

And as reported months ago in FE Week, the evidence is building that it’s employer demand for young apprentices that will suffer, under a new ‘employer-led’ levy funding regime in which the employer must financially contribute.

Take a look at the standards pilot before May.

Latest figures for the already popular level two customer service standard show 560 starts between August and January.

How many of them are going to those under the age of 19?

Ten. Ten out of 560 is less than 2 percent!

The government won’t be able to claim they weren’t warned about the worsening position for young apprentices.

But the least they could do is stop peddling this manifesto lie.

Read more about the Conservatives’ manifesto. 



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  1. EMGillies

    I think Nick Linford is right. The government have yet again listened to the few large employers and yet again it is the ordinary people who suffer. SME’s and apprentices aged over 19 are being penalised. SME’s will not be able to afford wages and training costs. Don’t get me started on the paperwork, it would have been cheaper to employ auditors to ensure apprentices exist and ensure the funding being drawn down was correct. Let’s make it difficult all round, put everybody off doing apprenticeships! Never realise this manifesto pledge for the conservatives