In May the number of apprenticeship starts for 16-18-year-olds dropped 79 percent year-on-year, with numbers set to dwindle even further, a report warned. A third of manufacturers are cancelling or putting their training on hold due to financial pressure from COVID-19, research has suggested.
Make UK, the TUC, the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions and skills training providers Enginuity and Cogent, alongside other leading industry stakeholders from sectors including aerospace, food and drink, automotive, chemicals and defence, have joined forces to write to the Government saying that direct action is needed to safeguard skills, young people and the manufacturing sector as a whole.
They called for a National Skills Taskforce to be set up involving unions and other key stakeholders to ensure vital skills and skilled workers are retained.
The taskforce should identify opportunities where workers’ skills are in demand, in manufacturing or other sectors, and develop a programme to support employers in the development of new digital and “green” skills, said the report.
Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, said: “Workers are going to face massive economic challenges in the months ahead and it is often young workers and apprentices who experience the worst impact.
“It is critical that the Government listens to this call to act urgently to support current apprentices to complete their programmes and to enable employers to continue to provide high quality apprenticeship opportunities.”