Call to give students equal funding to pursue a trade

Deputy Inna Gardiner Picture: ROB CURRIE. (38216955)

STUDENTS who want to pursue a vocation or trade should be given the same access to funding as those in education, according to the former Education Minister.

Deputy Inna Gardiner is calling on the government to provide equal financial assistance for all 16- to 18-year-olds to ensure “equal opportunities” for all.

She said this would improve young people’s career prospects and skills no matter which path they took.

The proposition aims to alleviate financial pressures on students pursuing vocational or trade careers.

In a statement, Deputy Gardiner described her proposed policy as an “investment in the future”.

“Young people can develop a greater range of skills and the likelihood of unemployment is significantly reduced by staying in education longer,” she added.

In the report accompanying her proposal, she said: “This proposition asks the Assembly the simple question – should we be providing equal opportunities for skills and education for all young people?”

She also outlined the current disparity in funding between students pursuing academic studies and those in vocational training.

“Currently, students who stay in education within government paid education (Hautlieu) are funded to between £7,000 and £8,000 per year, whereas students who choose to go to Highlands for apprenticeship training will receive only £1,600 from the government’s Tracker programme. They may also receive some funding from the Highlands Grant or from employer contributions, or they may have to self-fund.

“The Tracker programme has a total budget of £650,000 per year for an average of 400+ apprentices (with a maximum funding of £1,600 for each student) whilst the annual average cost per year for an apprenticeship is £5,400.”

Deputy Gardiner also highlighted how 鶹’s legislation still assumes 16 as the age when young people can leave education or training, while in the UK and most of Europe, this age has been raised to 18.

“鶹 is an outlier,” she said.

Deputy Gardiner’s proposal calls on Education Minister Deputy Rob Ward to ensure fully-funded education or training for this age group by September 2025. It requests the inclusion of any necessary long-term funding in the 2026-2029 Government Plan.

She also called for a review of education legislation and policy to increase the length of time young people are in education or training.

She added that a 2019 Scrutiny review recommended raising the required age for all young people to be in full-time education or training, as well as equalising funding both across academic and vocational routes.

She concluded: “We are an affluent and prosperous Island – there is no reason we should rank lower than other nations in supporting 16-18 education.

“This is our opportunity to make that investment in 鶹’s future workforce and prosperity.”

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