As businesses continue to invest in growth and attempt to widen their client bases, an increasing number are finding it difficult to fill vacant staffing positions with suitably qualified applicants. In response to this problem, a number of industry bodies have called for a greater number of apprenticeships to be offered to school leavers and young people in order to train future generations to fill the skills deficit in the workforce.
According to figures released by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), the number of apprenticeship positions advertised between August and October last year rose 24 per cent year on year to reach 37,410. However, during the same time frame, the number of applicants climbed by 43 per cent to 461,530, meaning that each position attracted an average of 12 applications from young jobseekers.
Skills and enterprise minister, Matthew Hancock, appealed for more employers to come forward to participate in the scheme, claiming that “learn while you earn” schemes of this kind are quickly becoming the most appealing route into the workforce for young people.
He said; “With each online position attracting an average of 12 applications, demand continues to outstrip supply and I would urge more employers to consider how they can take advantage of this available pool of talent and grow their business through apprenticeships.”
In terms of regional activity, the greatest climb in apprenticeships was recorded in the north east, with a 60 per cent leap in interested school leavers. Yorkshire and the Humber followed at a close second, experiencing a 58 per cent increase in applications.
Unfortunately, it appears that Government aims to redress imbalances in the economy by way of apprenticeships also fell somewhat flat in the latest available figures. While the government is keen to see a sharp spike in apprenticeships in the fields of manufacturing and exports, the greatest numbers of both advertised vacancies and in applications remain in the business, law and administration sectors.
Additionally, it appears that the government’s wish to target young people and school leavers for apprenticeship schemes as a means of tackling youth unemployment is also yet to be realised, as the strongest gains were for those in the over 25s category. During the 2012/2013 academic year, the number of over 25s on apprenticeships trebled to 392,900, whilst the under 19 age group saw a drop – in fact, only 181,300 16 to 18 year olds managed to acquire places on apprenticeship schemes within the timeframe.
While apprenticeships are certainly on their way to becoming the future of choice for young people unwilling to spend huge amounts on university tuition fees, it appears there is a long way to go before the government’s idea of a perfect initiative is realised.
Do you think firms from sectors such as manufacturing and construction should be offered additional incentives to enter into apprenticeship schemes as a means of balancing economic growth?