WORK to turn around the “bleak” regional picture of apprenticeships will be discussed by Council bosses next week.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority has previously raised concerns about how apprenticeships are delivered in the area, and how little power Councils had to intervene.

Problems that had been identified earlier this year included the trend of apprentices being used as cheap, menial labour, without the promise of meaningful work at the end, businesses focusing on the number of apprentices starting rather than finishing their apprenticeships, and schools that were “unreceptive” to apprentice programmes.

And many schools that did engage with apprentice programmes “often direct apprenticeships to a regressively stereotypical cohort of students.”

At a meeting of the Combined Authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Friday, members will be told of the work that has been done this year to try and improve the apprentice offer in West Yorkshire.

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A Future-Ready Skills Commission, chaired by Bradford Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe, was launched in January “to set out a bold and ambitious blueprint of how the skills system can work better for regional and national economies.”

They will produce a report on their findings “immediately” according to a report going to the committee, and this final report will make recommendations directly to Government for how the skills system needs to change in order to deliver better local outcomes.

At Friday's meeting members will be told of the various schemes to boost the number and quality of apprentice schemes in West Yorkshire.

Detailing why action was needed, the report says: "The regional and national picture regarding apprenticeships was bleak. The expected upswing in apprenticeships, at larger organisations in particular, following the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy had not materialised.

"Apprenticeships must ultimately lead to long-term meaningful jobs and not be a form of cheap labour.

"Both nationally and locally, there appears to be a greater focus on apprenticeship starts than on completion of apprenticeships and outcomes arising from apprenticeship-related activity.

"The Committee was alarmed by reports that many schools and sixth forms are not receptive to approaches from education and training providers to promote apprenticeships amongst students and that when schools do engage, they often direct apprenticeships to a regressively stereotypical cohort of students."