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NIACE rebukes calls for UK apprenticeship age limit

A report from the Institute of Public Policy Research recommending the age limit for UK apprenticeships be lowered to 23 has been criticised by NIACE (National Institute of Adult Continuing Education).

The report suggested that no one aged 23 or over should be allowed to start an apprenticeship except in exceptional circumstances, and few apprentices should be aged 25 or over.

Responding to  the ‘Remember the young ones: Improving career opportunities for Britain’s young people’ report, NIACE  said that apprenticeships should be based on the stage an individual is at in their career – rather than their age.

Caroline Berry, Head of Learning for Work at NIACE said: “It is the stage of a career that is crucial, not the age of the individual. Apprenticeships can make a significant difference at these stages, including when people move into their first job (at any age), when they are promoted into a new role requiring new skills and when they change career.”

The report included studies of the vocational education model in countries in Europe that had low levels of youth unemployment during the recession. It said that counties that had good school to work transition opportunities for young people, such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Norway, were more likely to have higher number of young people in employment.

NIACE said it welcomed the report’s evidence on the importance of the transition between learning and employment. However, NIACE called for more focus on the future needs of the labour market.

“This report must take account of some of the stark realities of the world of work. There will be 13.5 million job vacancies over the next decade, but only 7 million young people entering the labour market – skilled adults already in work will need to fill that gap,” Berry said.

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