By Anne Longfield, Children's Commissioner for England
In wanting to improve the prospects for care leavers, I used my statutory powers to collect data to find out how many care leavers are on apprenticeships and commissioned the Centre for Social Justice to write a report which looked at why comparatively few do so.
The report found that there are serious barriers to care leavers becoming apprentices. In some areas less than 1% were on apprenticeship schemes and almost one in five local authorities are estimated to have less than 3% of care leavers on apprenticeships.
Only 6% of care leavers enter higher education compared to 47% of the general population. Almost 38% of care leavers are not in education, employment or training compared with 11% of all young people.
A high quality apprenticeship can provide a solid foundation for a young person’s future and their prospects of long-term employment. Despite this, children in care and care leavers are not being encouraged or supported into apprenticeships.
I am calling on local authorities to guarantee every care leaver who would like one, an apprenticeship that meets their aspirations.
The Delivering a Care Leaver’s Strategy for Traineeships and Apprenticeships report makes a series of recommendations that include:
Redirecting the Apprenticeship Levy to support care leavers starting apprenticeships and removing any financial barriers to care leavers starting high quality apprenticeships.
Extending the offer of local authority support for looked after children to age 25, with personal advisers working with them from age 14 as a source of support, information and advice.
Getting care leavers ‘work -ready’ and improving funding and delivery and clarifying traineeship terminology.
- Asking the Government to work with schools and employers to promote apprenticeships for school leavers.
It is vital that we make sure children who are in or leaving care are properly supported so they continue to thrive when they have left care.
I warmly welcome the Government’s recent care leavers strategy and would like to see better support go into higher or further education, employment or apprenticeships.