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Chamber and committees

Question ref. S5W-34207
Asked by: Rona Mackay, Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Scottish National Party
Date lodged: 22 December 2020


To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, what progress is being made with the recruitment of apprentices.

Current status: Answered by Jamie Hepburn on 23 December 2020


Covid-19 continues to present unprecedented challenges for business across Scotland with many employers delaying and pausing recruitment decisions. Unfortunately, this has and will continue to have, an impact on apprenticeship provision.

Due to the continued uncertainty in the labour market and the extension of the Job Retention Scheme, to the end of April 2021, it is clear we will not now meet our target of 30,000 apprenticeship starts this year. Whilst disappointing, we have moved from a period which delivered historically low levels of unemployment and achieving our ambitious targets on youth unemployment, to a much more challenging labour market with young people already being more severely impacted by the pandemic.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) monthly estimates, published 10 December 2020, show that in October 2020 GDP is now 23.4% higher than its April 2020 low. However, it still remains 7.9% below the levels seen in February 2020 before the full impacts of Covid-19. The Scottish Government has and will continue to do all we can to promote and maximise the uptake of apprenticeships highlighting the benefit that they can bring to businesses, individuals and the economy.

Apprenticeships remain at the heart of our skills system in Scotland and are integral to Scotland’s Young Person’s Guarantee. As we continue to support our young people and apprentices, we have introduced additional funding for interventions, such as Pathway Apprenticeships, increased support for Adopt an Apprentice and an additional £15 million funding for the Apprenticeship Employer Grant, to encourage employers to recruit and retain apprentices supporting the long-term future of work-based learning and the economy.

We will work closely with Skills Development Scotland to maximise the number of apprenticeships and related opportunities available.