Apprenticeships Hailed As Means Of Social Mobility

The issue of social mobility has been one that has exercised the public and policy-makers for centuries, with the notion that people can make their way up the social ladder and defy ideas of a rigid class system being the key to many people fulfilling their aspirations.

How that might still be achieved today in a changing world is a matter of debate, but a survey by training company Corndel has indicated that most HR professionals see the role of apprenticeship training providers as very important for helping people achieve such goals in the 21st century, HR Magazine reports.

The study found 85 per cent of HR professionals believe apprenticeships can be a very effective means of advancing social mobility, but only 65 per cent plan to use them over the next year.

Co-founder of Corndel James Kelly said: “Social mobility in the UK is tragically going backwards. High-quality education, like professional apprenticeships, changes lives and can have a profound effect on social mobility.”

Whether the gap can be closed by measures such as the autumn statement announcement by Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt of £50 million “to pilot ways to increase the number of apprentices in engineering and other key growth sectors” make a difference remains to be seen.

Mr Hunt prefaced this announcement by commenting: “No economy can prosper without investing in the potential of its people.” The funds will be delivered over the next two years.

The other relevant announcement made in the Autumn Statement was about the minimum wage for apprentices, which will increase from £5.28 to £6.40 from April, a 21 per cent increase.

Mr Hunt’s message was based on increasing skills and with it economic growth, rather than the individual aspirations that opportunities for social mobility can bring to life. However, if the steps taken to promote apprenticeships can raise the number of HR professionals using them, these goals may be advanced in tandem.