Get apprenticeships moving, with policy change & free travel for trainees


If the UK is to overcome its skills problem, the Government has to do something about the ‘square peg, round hole’ solution it is persisting with.

And this includes delivering practical solutions to encourage more young people into practical training.

I’ve met former Skills Minister Robert Halfon on numerous occasions, and he’s always shown his dedication to ironing out the deep creases, sullying the apprenticeship programme in the UK.

It’s a shame however, that this is an outlook, not shared by Cabinet members who should be investing in a workable vocational training structure for British youngsters.

This week, Robert, the current chair of the Commons Education Select Committee questioned the Education Secretary Damian Hinds on whether the Conservatives will be delivering on its manifesto commitment to offer travel discounts for apprentices.

And staying true to trend that is sweeping through Cabinet, Hinds couldn’t commit.

The idea behind subsidised travel for those on an apprenticeship, is to ensuring travel costs aren’t a deterrent for youngsters, who can’t afford to burden the cost.

I, of course, have my own view on the situation, announcing earlier in the year, one of my first polices if elected as London Mayor will be to make travel for all registered apprentices under the age of 25 free on the Underground and the bus network.

I know this will not only boost real wages for apprentices, but will act as a real incentive to get youngsters into work, and off the streets.

But what miffs me off is the Government’s habitual failure to protect the youngsters of today and tomorrow, by being incapable of delivering sound policies to give young people real opportunities.

The current Apprenticeship Levy was meant to be a benediction, but it feels more like a ‘Hail Mary’.

The Government has failed by implementing a dud policy, and no one is doing anything about it. We need someone to stand on the threshold of history, and bring down the structural prejudice against young people who don’t want to go to University, by giving them more opportunities to success via an apprenticeship.

And whilst we trusted the Government to make this happen, they devised the Levy. A system susceptible to abuse, with large corporations taking advantage of it and subsequently taking away from the genuine meaning of an Apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships aren’t only the ticket to untold riches for the next generation, but they are also the answer to a nationwide skills shortage, already draining the economy.

There’s always talk of wanting a strong and vibrant economy, but the grey days will continue to reign, if our skills shortage isn’t addressed.

So whilst Skills Minister Anne Milton continues to do nothing, I’m committed to challenging policies like the Levy which will see our nation sink further into the darkness we’re undoubtedly headed for.


Charlie Mullins

About Charlie Mullins

Charlie Mullins is the archetypal entrepreneur having started Pimlico Plumbers from scratch and building it into a multi-million pound enterprise. Always opinionated and often controversial, Charlie’s common sense attitude has earned him a reputation as one of the UK's most outspoken entrepreneurs.