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Apprenticeships: A Grounding for Success

By Lauren Rutherford

Under the Tory-led coalition, youth unemployment has been at its highest ever. Unemployment amongst 18-24 year olds in June-August 2012 was a shocking 18.5% – 764,000 young people unemployed. If you include people of the ages 16 and 17, this goes up to 957,000. This is less than it has been, but still remains at a very unacceptable level.

This is a huge problem for our economy and for young people across the country. As others have mentioned, this could lead to a “lost generation”. I strongly believe apprenticeships could be a solution to this problem.

Many thousands of employers offer apprenticeships across the UK in over 160,000 locations. There are more than 1,200 job roles available to apprentices, covering a range of skills levels and occupations. There are courses to suit most organisations, from Engineering through to animal care. I have recently been employed as a Business Administration apprentice, and hope to grow within my apprenticeship and be successful throughout.

As many employers recognise the worth of apprentices, apprenticeship starts have increased at a record rate – with growth throughout the country across all age ranges and in all sectors. In the Tees Valley in 2010/11, 10% of employers recruited an apprentice. While this is better than the 7% national average, more can be done. It is important though to have proper long term apprenticeships, not just a few months. We need time and training to succeed.

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) has sown in recent research that 81% of apprentice employers say they make their business more productive and 88% believe they lead to a more motivated and satisfied workplace. Companies who also employ apprenticeships attract more customers as 81% of consumers favour this. These are just a handful of the many business benefits of taking on apprentices.

There is also great support available to employers taking on apprentices. Increasing the number of Apprenticeships in the Tees Valley area will not only benefit business but will also increase the number of opportunities for young people, helping to lower unemployment.

I am one of the lucky ones, recently starting a Business Administration Apprenticeship with Alex Cunningham, the Member of Parliament for Stockton North. This opportunity will help give me the experience and qualifications I need to be successful in my future career.

I chose to apply for an apprenticeship because I feel that this is the best way for young people to gain new skills and while boosting the ones I already have. It’s a great way to build a career, and is a great way to see for yourself if you would enjoy your chosen career path. I am already experiencing what working for an MP entails.

My apprenticeship is giving me a valuable experience working in an office environment, taking on office tasks and responsibilities. I am already part of a small team, but work independently using my own initiative. After just two weeks working as an apprentice I feel more confident while my knowledge of Business Administration has become a lot stronger, allowing me to assist with the day-to-day work of Alex’s office.

As an apprenticeship myself I can see the great value of apprenticeships and I hope people encourage the growth of employers taking on apprenticeships and the growth of opportunities of young people.