What does Brexit mean for young people & apprenticeships?

Brexit has become a reality, but the young did not vote for it. The final YouGov poll before the referendum showed 72% of 18 to 24-year-olds backed a Remain vote – with just 19% backing Brexit. So what does it mean for them, and the country’s apprentices?

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The UK has voted to leave the European Union, with a 72% voter turnout. Even though the overall vote was 52% for Brexit compared with 48% for Remain, the votes cast by young people reflected a very different picture: the final YouGov poll before the referendum showed 72% of 18 to 24-year-olds backed a Remain vote, with just 19% backing Brexit.

Hundreds of thousands of young people signed up for the vote at the last moment, crashing the voter registration site and forcing the deadline to be extended.

On the eve of the referendum, 170 students’ unions, NUS leaders, student campaigns, and youth wings of political parties have warned that a Leave victory would be “a massive defeat” for all students.

The signatories said: “A vote to leave the EU - which provides 15% of Britain’s university funding, and a vital targeted 75 million to British colleges - would provide an obvious hock for further fee increases and marketisation.

“But this vote is about more than money - it is about the kind of world we want to live in. We want an open, pluralist society. We value the freedom to study and work on the continent, as tens of thousands of young British people do every year. The European students who study at British universities - like the European migrants who come here to work - enrich our lives and the society we live in.”

The letter also highlighted how signatories believed that housing shortages, low wages, and overstretched public services are problems that “do not arise from migration,” adding: “They are the product of decades of failed government policy and an economic system which exploits us for the benefit of the rich.”

In terms of what the result means for apprenticeships, obviously the immediate future is unclear. Earlier this year Alan Johnson, head of Labour In for Britain, warned that 50,000 manufacturing apprenticeships could be put at risk if Britain votes to leave.

The former Home Secretary said a decision to leave the EU would mean “letting down” young British workers as part of an impassioned plea to protect the manufacturing industry.

Around 50,000 manufacturing apprenticeships in the UK are dependent on exports to the EU, according to Johnson.

“For each one of those apprentices, gaining skills, earning a good wage and working towards a career, we can’t let them down, turn our back on the world and cut British manufacturing and industry off from their largest export market.”

Just this week, The Shadow Skills Minister shared his fears for apprenticeships in light of Brexit. Gordon Marsden, who was firmly in the Remain camp, shared his fears of the knock-on effect of a Brexit on achieving the long stated target of three million apprentices by 2020.

“Having spoken to people, representing everything from large companies to SMEs and sector skills councils, the general impression I have had is one of extreme concern that leaving the EU could hold back the apprenticeship programme even more,” said Marsden.

“I think leaving would create huge problem for this government – any government in fact – trying to meet the long-stated three milion target by 2020,” he wrote.

“I am actually just as worried about the overall effect on apprenticeships of Brexit as the specifics of how it would affect the apprenticeship levy — which was of course the concern raised recently by Skills Minister Nick Boles.”

Around 50,000 manufacturing apprenticeships in the UK are dependent on exports to the EU, according to Johnson.

“For each one of those apprentices, gaining skills, earning a good wage and working towards a career, we can’t let them down, turn our back on the world and cut British manufacturing and industry off from their largest export market.”

Just this week, The Shadow Skills Minister shared his fears for apprenticeships in light of Brexit. Gordon Marsden, who was firmly in the Remain camp, shared his fears of the knock-on effect of a Brexit on achieving the long stated target of three million apprentices by 2020.

“Having spoken to people, representing everything from large companies to SMEs and sector skills councils, the general impression I have had is one of extreme concern that leaving the EU could hold back the apprenticeship programme even more,” said Marsden.

“I think leaving would create huge problem for this government – any government in fact – trying to meet the long-stated three milion target by 2020,” he wrote.

“I am actually just as worried about the overall effect on apprenticeships of Brexit as the specifics of how it would affect the apprenticeship levy — which was of course the concern raised recently by Skills Minister Nick Boles.”

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