National Apprenticeship Week gives us an opportunity to consider where our system is going wrong and to devise an ambitious plan to combat in-work poverty, says Andy Norman.
There remains fundamental confusion as to what apprenticeships are and who they should be for. Within the context of rising in-work poverty alongside persistent skills shortages, we must set an ambitious vision for apprenticeships to be central to our efforts to build a more inclusive economy.
According to the latest data from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, there are now four million workers in the UK living in poverty, a rise of more than 500,000 over the past five years. Many rightly point to stagnating wages and the proliferation of low-skill jobs with little chance of pay progression as the driving force behind this trend. In this context, the growing public policy interest in “good work” is unsurprising. Yet while much of this debate has focussed on how we create good new jobs, policymakers would do well to prioritise filling the thousands of well-paying technical jobs up and down the country that businesses are already struggling to recruit for.
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