Preventing Youth Unemployment in Medway – are Apprenticeships the answer?

Julie Kemsley

Hoorah, its Apprenticeship Week (6th – 10th February, 2012), hands up all those young people who want to do an apprenticeship. Hands up all the small to medium sized businesses who want to take on an apprentice!

As one of Margaret Thatcher’s YTS (Youth Training Scheme) successes, I am a great believer in apprenticeships and will always promote them wherever I can.

In one of my roles as an Apprentice Support Consultant, I found it astonishing (and extremely disappointing) at the number of young people who were applying for an apprenticeship role, via the National Apprenticeship website, but turned up for the pre-interview having no idea what an apprenticeship was!

Having to witness this time and time again, I made it my responsibility to invite all appropriate applicants to a group training session to help them understand the mechanics of an apprenticeship and how it could help them now and in the future. Young people left my training having a greater understanding of what an apprenticeship was, but boy, did I open a huge can of ‘employability’ worms when it came to explaining how to apply for one!

It became abundantly clear that not only did the young people have no idea about apprenticeships, they didn’t have a clue about how to put together a CV (being a true reflection of their ‘real’ skills – not one that they had downloaded from the internet), they were reckless in their completion of application forms (thinking that missing out some boxes was totally acceptable) and the most worrying of all is the alarming lack of social and self-promotional skills. Too many young people are failing at interviews (if they ever get that far!) because they have no idea how to promote themselves, identifying transferable skills from their everyday lives that can convince an employer that they are right for the role on offer.

So, now the government has again decided to jump on the ‘Apprenticeships are the way forward’ wagon and offer cash incentives to encourage businesses to take on an apprentice (

I agree that Apprenticeships ARE the way forward for young people but what Medway (and the rest of the UK) need to think about is adopting a ‘NEET Prevention’ scheme (Not in Education, Employment or Training) ensuring that young people have all the information on how to apply for apprenticeships and, more importantly, how to apply themselves BEFORE they leave secondary education (prevention rather than cure). Employability Skills needs to be part of the curriculum, not as a stand-alone subject, but included in all lessons as an add-on to what they have learnt in that lesson.

If young people are made aware of how crucial everyday skills are, such as working as part of a team, problem solving, confidence building and leadership skills (to name just as few) it could help them gain employment in the future leading to less NEETs and more inspired and motivated young people.

In addition, the attitude of young people most certainly needs to be addressed by instilling confidence and motivation through the right delivery, encouraging a ‘can-do’ environment within the classroom rather than the more passive policy adopted by outside organisations that are brought in to supposedly prevent future youth unemployment (judging by the statistics, something obviously isn’t working!)

Employability training is not being positively implemented to encourage young people to change their attitude towards the world of work and appreciate that –

There are available jobs once they leave school

They are capable of gaining a job in the career of their choice

University can be an option, whatever the fees may be.

Once this happens, the keenness of employers wanting to take on an apprentice should naturally follow. Why should an employer take on a young person who cannot convince anyone (themselves included) that they are right for the role. If we have more confident, work ready young people who can easily promote their skills and be honest and realistic about their expectations, they are more likely to be successful in their quest for employment.

So, to summarise, YES – Apprenticeships are the way forward, just make sure that all young people and employers know why!

Julie Kemsley

Employability Mentor

Telephone: 07764 853 474

Posted to Blog by Paul Champion

Mobile: 07540 704920

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