In mid-August thousands of young people received their A-level results. These young people will be the first to pay the higher £9,000 tuition fees and so it’s no surprise that applications by English students to universities this year were down 10%.
Young people priced out of education are forced onto the dole queue – one million are unemployed – or into unpaid training schemes, or very poorly paid apprenticeships.
For many, apprenticeships represent a cheaper alternative to higher education – 63% more decided on this path in 2010/11 than the previous year. But this year the numbers of young apprentices are down in a third of regions and are generally static. That might have something to do with the fact that 70% of apprenticeships are reportedly given to existing employees.
The national minimum wage for apprentices is just £2.60 an hour which in many cases will barely cover the costs of attending the apprenticeship. Many young people working in apprenticeships receive little training and end up performing the tasks of a job which should receive a full wage.
In effect apprenticeships represent the slashing of the minimum wage, for recent school leavers in particular, but also for those already in work. Employers will replace the current jobs with apprenticeships to save money and increase their profits at the expense of a future for young people.