The HomeServe Foundation has called for a new government incentive which gives employers cash to take on apprentices, to be extended beyond its September deadline.
The Foundation, which is the charity arm of leading UK home repairs and improvements firm HomeServe, said the new £3,000 (£4,000 for apprentices aged 16 to 18) cash training allowance – which opened for applications this week and is aimed at businesses taking on an apprentice between April and September – does not go far enough to tackle the long-term UK skills gap and rising youth unemployment.
The call comes after the Government’s own apprenticeship start figures showed a 19 per cent decrease in the number of young people becoming an apprentice since last year, partly blamed on the introduction of the KickStart placement scheme.
At the same time research from the HomeServe Foundation and Capital Economics identified a growing skills shortage in the trades and construction industry that could lead to rising costs and longer waiting lists for domestic repairs and improvement projects.
The Foundation says apprenticeship costs and administration complexity are the key barriers small trades firms face when taking on a young trainee – and partly explain the sector’s lower take-up rate overall.
Helen Booth, director of the HomeServe Foundation, said: “Covid has had a disastrous impact on the youth labour market. While this incentive is very welcome, we know that it won’t be enough to correct the problems we’re facing – a long term skills gap and rising youth unemployment.
“Our own UK Domestic Trades Skills Index found apprenticeship rates in the sector had not been keeping up with demand since before 2014 and that in order to avoid shortages, would need to increase by 44% year-on-year to 2030.”
“We know that this cash incentive would appeal to the small firms in this sector that carry out the majority of the work, but six months is not long enough to give these incentives a chance to make a difference.”