The high level of youth unemployment has firmly focused attention on apprenticeships as a critical means of addressing the problem. The benefits of vocational training for both young people and employers was highlighted during National Apprenticeship Week 2014, which ran from 3-7 March. But this celebration of apprenticeships and their contribution to the national economy also provided another opportunity to identify areas where more work needs to be done, Sarah Champion MP writes in a post on the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) blog.
At present the number of NEETs tops one million. In other words, that many young Britons are not in education, employment or training. Apprenticeships have proved a highly viable option for these young people, giving them the opportunity to gain practical skills and work experience and thus pave their way to a rewarding career. This also works to the advantage of employers as they benefit from the enthusiasm and fresh perspective of their young recruits.
However, the fact remains that the government still has its work cut out when it comes to meeting apprenticeship demand, Champion points out. While more apprentice positions are created every year, the number of applications far exceeds that of apprenticeship vacancies. Think tank research has shown there are only 11 apprentice positions for every 1,000 jobs in England. If the UK is to achieve sustained economic growth in the long term, the government must invest seriously in the country’s future talent base and do so without delay. For that reason, Champion supports the BCC call for a focus on youth skills and training in the forthcoming Budget. The organisation has urged Chancellor George Osborne to put apprenticeship investment among his priorities and Champion believes this is the proper course of action to ensure the future prosperity of the UK economy.