Why apprentices are worth it

Apprentices are crucial to create jobs and expand businesses

Mon 02nd, Mar

We’ve just had the welcome news that unemployment fell again in the last quarter of 2014.

But the silver lining has a cloud. If you are aged 18 to 24, your chance of being out of work remains unchanged at about one in six.

The problem is not unique to the UK. In fact, things are a lot worse in several of our European neighbours.

Getting young people into jobs seems to be a problem for most western economies. At the Chamber, we have concrete evidence to back this up: there are 65 jobs available on our apprenticeship scheme but are short of candidates to apply for them.

In the last twelve months, we’ve placed apprentices at more than 160 companies in a wide variety of sectors. It’s a proven way for young people to find out what type of job they want to do and to get on the career ladder.

At the Chamber, we pay above the apprenticeship minimum wage and encourage our companies to do the same. But still demand still outstrips supply, even though the statistics* show that apprentices are more likely to be in employment for longer and that they get paid 11 per cent more than their peers at intermediate level and 18 per cent more at advanced level.

Business owners are quite outspoken when they’re asked what they want in young recruits: punctuality, literacy and numeracy skills, and a willingness to do as they are told are usually top of a fairly predictable list.

What they are often not so good at is articulating what they can offer people who step onto the lowest rung of their organisation.

We can all remember what it was like to be a teenager. But we forget how fast things change. Anyone who is now over 40 started work in a different era – economically, technologically and socially.

The young are more aware of this, and that makes it highly unlikely that they will take much notice of any careers advice we give them.

It’s no wonder that it can be difficult for employers and young jobseekers to communicate effectively. Difficult, but not impossible.

The best placements are those where apprentices can see the contribution they make to an organisation. That enhanced perception of their own worth is as valuable as any skill they will learn by doing the job they are entrusted with.

We want to raise the profile of apprentices, so if you are one, or you employ one, tell us your experiences by leaving a comment below.

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