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20,000 apprenticeships should be set aside for care leavers

Barnardo’s say that care leavers need Government support

Barnardo's has urged the Government to reserve 20,000 apprenticeships for 'looked after' 16-18 year olds who are in or leaving the [foster] care system.

This follows the Government's Summer Budget pledge to create three million new apprenticeships, and evidence that two in five existing places go to people already in work.

Recent unemployment figures show young people are three times more likely to be unemployed, with [foster] care leavers being twice as likely as others to be not in education, employment or training.

Moving between family placements three or more times per year disrupts their education, so care leavers can struggle to perform well at school. Less than half (37%) of care leavers pass five GCSEs at grades A*-C compared to other children. Those results put the entry criteria for some apprenticeships out of reach.

Instead of apprenticeships depending on entry qualifications only, care leavers' potential also needs to be taken into account, says the charity. Intensive support throughout an apprenticeship would help them get the qualifications they need and go on to successfully establish a career.

Javed Khan, Barnardo's Chief Executive, said:

"Young people leaving the care system have ambition and talents. They want to work, to be financially independent and contribute to the country's economy.

"But too often, care leavers find the door to employment is closed. Getting an apprenticeship and proving themselves in work can open up the door to a successful career instead of a dependence on benefits.

"Young people are the future of Britain's economy. They must be invested in and given the right support to get into work."

Setting aside 20,000 places is less than one per cent of new apprenticeships. Around 10,000 young people leave care in England every year.

21/8/15