RISING LIVING COSTS CREATE INCENTIVE FOR APPRENTICESHIPS
Financial factors have resulted in a change in the way people are thinking about further education.
This year, the popularity of apprenticeships is on the rise with UCAS reporting 430,000 students expressing an interest. However, the number of people turning this interest into a reality remains low, suggesting a need for increased accessibility to further education (FE).
Closing the skills gap through further education is of vital importance for the Liverpool City Region which has a historic skills gap. Addressing this issue will help to grow the local economy and get more households into or closer to work.
The UCAS inspired Be More portal provides a succinct place to explore local apprenticeship and further education opportunities, tailored to the differing interests of its 1.6M residents.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 and the cost-of-living crisis, the government has placed high importance on encouraging sustainable economic recovery, including upskilling the population to increase the level of employability. The Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) September 2023 report commended the government for this goal; however, they have identified areas which may require attention. One of which, is to transform the Apprenticeship Levy into a ‘Skills Challenge Fund’ this would allow firms to:
“Spend the fund on a more flexible variety of accredited and modular training supporting the upskilling and productivity growth our economy needs.”CBI, September 2023
Although further education is vital to the Liverpool City Region, and interest is increasing, technical and vocational pathways are not always presented as a viable option.
A report from OFSTED found that schools can be inaccessible to FE and skills training providers. In-school careers advice and teachers’ knowledge of apprenticeships and T-Levels can vary.
The pandemic limited access to work experience, and some employers are scrapping it altogether due to a greater number of employees adopting a hybrid working model (a mix of working from home and the office ). Education providers have also moved towards virtual careers advice, which learners are reporting as less impactful. It is a continued concern that the impact of COVID-19 highlighted the need for a diverse, skilful workforce whilst simultaneously non-academic pathways are not being actively encouraged in some sectors. Good quality apprenticeships are available in LCR, so it is essential that people know where to find them and how to access them.
There is also the added personal financial incentive to seek an alternative to university.
Student living costs in North West England are estimated to average around £1,007 per month, whilst maintenance loans often struggle to meet the bill. In contrast, apprenticeships allow people to earn money whilst still learning and have the advantage in a large number of cases, of moving them closer to permanent paid employment.
Ultimately, barriers to getting into work have long been an issue, but the current economic climate is providing an opportunity for LCR to develop it’s skills and employability in a wide range of sectors and careers.
For residents and those looking to work in LCR, the Be More platform offers learning opportunities and careers support in one easy-to-access place, which aids in securing rewarding employment as well as long-term career aspirations.