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Funding to be cut for Skills Active


The sport and active leisure Skills Sector Council has reacted angrily to the coalition government's decision to axe its apprenticeship funding despite pledges to create 100,000 new on-the-job training places over the next two years.
The Young Apprenticeship scheme in Sports Management, Leadership and Coaching, which is led by Skills Active, the Sector Skills Council for Active Leisure and Learning, kicked off in September 2005. Since then, more than 2,000 14-16 year olds have successfully completed training under the programme and 2,000 more are in the process of doing so.
But Skills Active believes that the decision to cease funding was linked to the publication of Professor Alison Wolf's review on vocational training which, it said, "criticised the efficacy of the YA programme and apprenticeships in general".
Stephen Studd, the body's chief executive, said: "This is a hugely disappointing decision that seems to be based on a questionable and potentially flawed report, especially when continuous evaluation has proven its value year-on-year."
Skills Active had been, and still was, open to discussion with the Department of Education on how the scheme could be amended to fit its new priorities, but instead the initiative had simply been "abandoned altogether without debate", he added.
But Studd pointed to a recent evaluation of the YA programme, which indicated that 100% of employers thought it provided a good starting point for those wanting to work in the sport and active leisure market, while nine out of 10 thought it had a positive impact on the sector.
Some 95% of employers were either 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied' with the young apprentices that they took on for work placements, while 98% of apprentices that had gone through the scheme would recommend it to others.
Moreover, Studd added that employment in the sport and active leisure sector had increased at an average annual rate of 3.9% over recent years, almost four times more than other industries. It currently employed about 470,000 people or 1.5% of the total workforce and was expected to grow at a faster rate than the UK economy as a whole.

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