A DECADE of decline in apprenticeships and training opportunities being available to youngsters in Barnsley has been laid bare by an MP - and plans are being made to reverse the trend to boost future aspirations.

John Healey, who represents Wentworth and Dearne, said Labour analysis showed there were 1,670 take-ups in 2022/23 - almost half the figure that was seen in 2013/14.

The figures have declined year-on-year, with only 2018/19 registering a slight climb when the government introduced a levy which incentivised employers to offer up on-the-job training posts to youngsters.

Department for Education data shows people living in Barnsley started 1,520 apprenticeships before the Covid-19 pandemic, down 26 per cent from 2,050 in the previous year and a 48 per cent fall from the 2,930 in 2016/17, when a government shake-up came into effect.

But a national decline in new starts - which has dropped further since the end of the pandemic - shows the apprenticeship levy introduced has ‘failed on all key measures’.

John said: “Apprentices across Barnsley should be celebrated for their impact on our community and local economy.

“But over recent years the government has been letting down our area with a decline in opportunities.

“Local young people and adults are ambitious for their families’ futures and want to learn new skills to get new jobs, or progress at work.

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“Labour will reverse the decline, giving businesses the flexibility they need to train people up with new skills.

“Apprenticeship starts have declined by 1,580 across Barnsley as the Tories have failed to equip individuals and the economy with the skills to meet national challenges including rising demand for digital skills.”

Plans are being drawn up to train more career advisors, whose roles will see them being based in schools and colleges.

John added: “Businesses should have the flexibility they’re asking for to train their workforce and deliver growth.

“It will start by turning the Tories’ failed apprenticeships levy into a ‘growth and skills levy’.

“The Conservatives’ levy has seen millions of pounds that should be used for skills training going unspent, even as businesses report growing skills shortages.

“Giving businesses flexibility would ensure this money could be used on a greater range of training courses including basic English, maths and digital skills, so businesses can fill skills gaps and people can gain new skills to progress at work.”