New five-point plan to increase support for engineering and technology apprenticeships

Former Labour and Conservative ministers Lord Knight and Lord Willetts, backed by not-for-profit organisation EngineeringUK, have launched a five-point plan to increase and support engineering and technology apprenticeships.


The report, released today (October 16, 2023), is the culmination of a comprehensive inquiry, seeking to find solutions to the decline in apprenticeships in the engineering and technology sectors over recent years. 

Based on insights gathered from businesses, education providers and young people, the report contains five key policy recommendations for all political parties to consider.

It calls on government, along with employers and providers, to work together as a matter of urgency, to rebalance and refocus apprenticeships to make them accessible for young people.

Lord Knight, inquiry co-chair and former Labour education and employment minister, commented: “Despite 20 years of reviews and reform, Britain is lagging behind our competitors in developing the skilled workforce we need to engineer a prosperous future. 

“This failure to better link schools and skills wastes the great potential of our young people. I hope this bold and practical set of recommendations will be listened to by policymakers and practitioners and finally fix this problem.”

The five main recommendations in the report are: to rebalance education, ensuring that the secondary school system, including technical pathways, is fit for the future; support young people in finding their apprenticeships and breaking down any barriers in the process; to refocus funding; enable more SMEs to play an active role in apprenticeships; and encourage employers to grow and sustain their own apprenticeship schemes for the future.

In a statement, Hilary Leevers, chief executive of EngineeringUK, said: “For engineering and technology to thrive, we urgently need more people and more diversity in our workforce. Apprenticeships offer a fantastic route for young people into rewarding and purposeful engineering and tech jobs, so it’s vital that they are fit for purpose.”

Lord Willetts, inquiry co-chair and former Conservative minister for universities and science, said: “Engineering is key for the British economy. Engineering apprentices and university graduates enjoy some of the higher earnings of any group. We can encourage a wider range of young people into engineering and provide them with more opportunities for education and training. We hope our report will be drawn on by all the political parties."

The report can be downloaded and read in full here.