Apprenticeships have been a hot topic this year, as digital apprentices have been named the “key weapon in battle for faster business growth” in all sectors, with support from the likes of Asda, BBC, Google, Samsung, Jaguar Land Rover, Royal Mail and more.
Elsewhere, Pimlico Plumbers boss Charlie Mullins, who started off an apprentice himself, said this year’s GCSE results have been a milestone in recognition for apprenticeships but added there’s still work to be done.
“There has been a significant shift in the attitude of our school leavers,” he said. “They’ve begun to see that there are options – like apprenticeships – other than university that will provide a more direct gateway to a career for life, which avoids racking up huge debts.”
But while apprenticeships are mostly directed at youngsters, Barclays is looking to the older age groups to join the business for training opportunities. According to the bank, the launch of its Bolder Apprentices scheme makes it the first UK firm to broaden its apprenticeship limit past the age of 24 and up to 65.
The bank said the decision has come as vocational training is a “viable route into employment for everybody and age or social circumstances shouldn’t be a deciding factor”.
To be eligible applicants must be aged over 24 and possess no more than one A-Level or less than a Level 2 qualification, while those out work for more than 12 months or working under 16 hours a week can also apply.
“It has been widely reported that that we are facing a chronic skills shortage in the UK. The government has suggested that based on current employer plans we will need to fill 13.5 million job vacancies in the next ten years, but only seven million young people will leave school and college in that time,” said Mike Thompson, director of apprenticeships at Barclays.
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“We have to address this, we have to find alternatives and we have to provide opportunities to unlock the talent that is being underutilised across all age brackets.”
Barclays is funding the programme, which has a pre-apprenticeship component to prepare and support selected candidates. This will also comprise ten days of full-time and classroom-based training, providing awareness of business and employability skills, literacy and numeracy aid, customer service, digital awareness and more. A one week placement in the bank, alongside coaching, will also be provided.
Successful candidates will then receive an apprenticeship offer and work on a 12-month programme with the firm, before a permanent role is offered at the end.
Thompson continued: “Once out of work, older workers face a much tougher task to find the opportunities to get back into full employment again. Barclays has launched the Bolder Apprenticeship programme to demonstrate our commitment to creating career opportunities regardless of age.
“From today, we want to start a conversation with other businesses to increase collaboration, regardless of sector or industry, to address how we can maximise the valuable contribution older workers make.”
Baroness Altmann, minister for pensions, added that an age diverse workforce allows companies to reflect a customer base and better serve and understand the needs of clients.
She said: “As we can look forward to living longer, we need to re-think what ‘old’ looks like – the traditional stereotypes of people over 50 no longer apply. It is never too late to learn new skills, take on new challenges and live life to the full.”
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