Call to set aside apprenticeships for care leavers
Thousands of apprenticeships in England should be reserved for young people coming out of care, a charity says.
Barnardo's is calling on ministers to reserve 20,000 apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds from the care system.
Care leavers' potential and not only their entry qualifications should be taken into account, Barnardo's says.
The Department for Education said it was "improving the lives of care leavers and helping them make a successful transition to adulthood".
According to the government's care leaver strategy 2013, around 10,000 youngsters aged between 16 and 18 leave care in England every year.
The strategy says there is a significant gap between the educational achievements of care leavers and their peers.
In June, the Prison Reform Trust launched an independent review to examine why so many children in care in England and Wales end up in the criminal justice system.
The trust says children aged 10 to 17 and in care are more than five times as likely to be in trouble than others.
In Chancellor George Osborne's Budget in July, the government pledged that three million new apprenticeships would be created by 2020, funded by a tax on large firms.
Now Barnardo's wants to see a tranche of these reserved for those coming out of the care system to redress some of the inequalities they face.
Instead of apprenticeships depending on entry qualifications only, care leavers' potential should also be taken into account, the charity says.
It adds that intensive support throughout an apprenticeship would help the young people get the qualifications they need to go on to successfully establish a career.
Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said: "Young people leaving the care system have ambition and talents. They want to work, to be financially independent and contribute to the country's economy.
"But too often, care leavers find the door to employment is closed. Getting an apprenticeship and proving themselves in work can open up the door to a successful career instead of a dependence on benefits.
"Young people are the future of Britain's economy. They must be invested in and given the right support to get into work."
A spokesman for the DfE said: "We are improving the lives of care leavers and helping them make a successful transition to adulthood.
"A good apprenticeship can help support this, and that is why we're fully funding apprenticeships training for eligible care leavers aged 19-23.
"We have also changed the law so young people can live with their foster family after they turn 18, and given every child who leaves care a personal adviser."