|Source: Huffington Post
The new Normal?
During a recession, unemployment rates are expected to rise but according to a recent parliament briefing youth unemployment in the UK is a worryingly high 20.8%. Thankfully, our rates are slightly less concerning than some Eurozone countries such as Spain where youth unemployment hit 55% in January. Think about that for a second. More than half of 16 to 24 year olds in Spain have no job. It’s a frightening statistic for the country in the long term and really shows why governments should be finding workable solutions to get businesses recruiting again. The British government believes that apprenticeships are the answer and announced on Monday that it wants to make apprenticeships the norm for those students leaving school but not heading for university. Over half a million people began apprenticeships this year, a huge increase on last year’s number of just 280,.
University: not the be-all and end-all
Apprenticeships, as an alternative to university, have been discussed a lot recently. Soaring fees amidst accusations that many universities were offering ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses has led to young people considering a different path to employment. The drive toward apprenticeships is being spurred on by the government’s formal apprenticeship scheme offering incentives for businesses that take on apprentices.
However, the scheme has not been without criticism. Last year, Panorama found that nearly £250 million had been handed to private companies to train apprentices with little scrutiny of how it was being spent - some of these companies didn’t even have jobs to offer the people who signed up. There has also been concern that the complexity of the system may be putting employers off. However the government has acknowledged this and set out a plan to make the process simpler.
Ladder for London
In London our youth unemployment rate is 25%, slightly higher than the national statistic. The Evening Standard has been particularly proactive in promoting apprentices through its Ladder for London campaign. The good thing about the Ladder for London campaign is that the Evening Standard is working with a variety of sectors, not just manual labour jobs that apprenticeships have traditionally been associated with. Without this campaign I don’t think Metro Bank would have committed to taking on 150 apprentices. So far, 650 young people have been signed up through the campaign and this number will hopefully increase over Apprenticeship Week. The campaign got off to a good start and managed to achieve 100 apprentice placements in 100 days. We at Abchurch, named in the Top 100, are proud to be part of that accomplishment, having taken on an apprentice who has turned out to be incredibly helpful and is learning a lot about an industry you would traditionally struggle to get into without formal education. But we found out about the scheme through the Evening Standard Campaign. I’m sure there are many other businesses out there that have the potential to employ an apprentice or two but simply don’t know how. We need a much bigger media campaign which National Apprentice Week has started. National newspapers should run similar campaigns to the really successful Evening Standard one. Not only is it good publicity for the companies involved but it is also a socially responsible thing to do.
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