Apprenticeships are dying out

Youth unemployment is forecast to top one million this year. Not surprising, then, is the amount of companies refusing to take on an apprentice in 2013. 

Software provider Sage revealed the challenges facing youth unemployment in new research, calling upon their UK Omnibus of more than 700 business owners. Worryingly, their findings revealed that only seven per cent of businesses plan to hire an apprentice this year. Perhaps the most concerning fact is that the figure is almost half the number – 13 per cent –  of firms to take on apprentices in 2012.

This is hardly the way to fill the skills-gap so many businesses are feeling. It takes money to train, so a qualified individual is more sought after than an unexperienced apprentice in this economic climate. 

On the other hand, graduates are deemed to lack work experience. As Charlie Mullins has stated before in an article, do young people today really have to graduate to have a career?

Mullins’ argument alludes to the fact that someone with the skills taken from training and apprenticeships could in fact be better suited for a job than a trained-in-theory university graduate. “BAE Systems couldn’t get what they needed in an employee from the universities. Therefore, 240 of the company’s 400 top managers [have] completed in-house apprenticeships,” wrote Mullins.

Regardless, youth unemployment remains one of the biggest challenges in the UK. The good news? High-profile apprenticeship campaigns, such as Ladder for London, or Sage’s first Apprenticeship Scheme are opening their doors. Both schemes call for other campaigns and companies to follow suite.

Programmes are giving apprentices the opportunity to learn and work their way to professional qualifications and longer-term employment. Hopefully, a step in the right direction.

Leisa Docherty, people services director for Sage UK, said: “The private sector could be the game changer for turning around youth unemployment. Big businesses, growing businesses and social entrepreneurs all have the opportunity to make a real difference. That’s what we are trying to do with our apprenticeship scheme.”

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