Statistics show that youth unemployment in the UK continues to fall, with Labour Market statistics from last November showing 16% of 16-24 year olds were unemployed compared to 22.5% in 2011. This has no doubt been helped by government measures to ensure young people stay in education or training until they are 18, but the government’s sustained push for apprenticeships is surely playing a part too?
While youth unemployment figures still soar above the 6% rate for the working population as a whole, there is no doubt things are moving in the right direction. This trend looks set to continue as the government works to make good on their pledge to create 3 million new apprentices by 2020.
Offering young people real workplace skills and aligning them with training and jobs with employers is making the best of the potential of the next generation of workers. It works well for employers who are able to train young people on the job before any bad habits creep in, while also offering valuable work experience, training and a wage to apprentices.
In the past there was a real focus on academic achievement, which led to the surge in the number of young people heading to university. The downside to this can be seen in the number of graduates who struggle to find appropriate work once they leave university. Where graduates are thrown into competing for work, apprentices are offered a guided route into employment.
While apprentices must still apply for apprenticeships like with a regular job, the expectations are not so great as it is expected that they will need to learn. Just like with a regular job, apprentices are also paid a wage. Understanding what employers want from apprentices will help you to get accepted on an apprenticeship.
The current minimum wage for apprentices is £3.30 per hour, which has led some to complain that the apprenticeship system is little more than a way of securing cheap labour. However, an apprenticeship asks for no tuition fees, with the training being paid for by the employer, and the range of apprenticeships that are available had increased dramatically. Plus, that 12-month course duration will soon pass, and you can always use advice to save some money while you train (like university students!).
There are now apprenticeships in everything from advertising, to legal work, and art galleries, to I.T. The old image of apprenticeships being for manual workers is no longer true, and with many qualified apprentices going straight into work, it looks good for employment prospects too.
Apprenticeships needn’t be seen as a lesser option to university any longer, with higher level apprenticeships being the equivalent to a degree, they are just a different route into work. And, as for the tales of low pay? There are some top apprenticeships that offer a training wage of around £25,000 per year – which has to be better than paying £9,000 a year in uni fees!
Apprenticeships look good for reducing youth unemployment further, but also look good for the nation’s economy, which is something that other countries have already recognised. Australia boasts 39 apprentices per 1,000 employees, German has 40 per 1,000, and Switzerland has 43, compared to the UK’s current standing of just 11 apprentices per 1,000 employees. It is estimated that boosting the number of apprentices to similar levels would add £4 billion per year to the British economy.
With such positive potential, it is little surprise that apprenticeships are being taken more seriously by employers and the government alike. Isn’t it time you took a proper look at apprenticeships? You can check out a range of current apprenticeships right here at NotGoingtoUni.