Sunday, 3 Mar 2024

Apprentices face ‘postcode lottery’ on financial help with some missing out on hundreds in discounts, study shows | The Sun

APPRENTICES face a “postcode lottery” as shock new research shows they are handed wildly different amounts of cash to help train up.

Trainees in Liverpool can get 50 per cent discounts on train season tickets but nothing similar is offered to those in West or South Yorkshire, according to Policy Exchange.

In the West Midlands, apprentices can access discounts on public transport only for their first 16 weeks, compared to one year in London.

Not only is there huge regional disparity, but apprentices are often denied the financial support that young people in education can access, the think tank claimed.

London’s Apprentice Oyster Card is only available to them in the first 12 months, whereas the 18+ student equivalent is valid until the end of a school, college or university course.

They also pointed to the Government’s £192 million 16-19 Bursary Fund that offers support for struggling young people in schools and colleges.

It means young people feel forced into going down the university route rather than seeing apprenticeships as an attractive and financially feasible alternative.

Policy Exchange is calling on the Government to help with public transport and bursaries in line with students.

It follows the Sun on Sunday’s Builder Better Britain campaign to get more people into apprenticeship schemes.

Alun Francis, Interim Chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said the research opened “very important” questions for policy makers, adding: “Apprenticeships have a strong role to play in widening opportunity in this country.”

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A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Apprenticeships are paid jobs – offering the opportunity to earn while learning the skills needed to build a successful career. We raised the apprenticeship minimum wage by 9.7% this year, and many employers pay more than this.

“To help apprentices who need additional financial support, we have increased the care leavers bursary to £3,000 and we pay employers and providers £1,000 when they take on 16-18 year old apprentices, which can be used to cover transport or other costs.”

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