Training the next generation of workers is key to growth
WE HAVE just completed the biggest and most successful National Apprenticeship Week to date.
It has been a week when politicians, business owners, and thousands of young people across the country have united to highlight the importance of workplace training initiatives and encourage more people to consider this path to employment.
Launching National Apprenticeship Week, Business Secretary Vince Cable said the Government wanted to work with businesses to deliver 100,000 more apprentices by 2014. Seemingly, everywhere we turned, businesses were urged to say “you’re hired!” to more young people.
Of course, it’s great to have an opportunity to raise the profile of the many organisations, like YHATA, that increase opportunities for young unemployed people.
However, when the blaze of publicity diminishes, the positive case studies are filed away and the headline- grabbing announcements are forgotten, the serious work starts.
In the coming weeks, we must not forget how vital it is for employers and the Government to provide their continued support to apprenticeship programmes throughout the year and beyond.
In a time of austerity, continued investment in training the next generation of highly skilled workers is the key to sustainable economic growth.
I would also echo the comments of Simon Waugh, the outgoing CEO of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), who acknowledged that there is still a way to go in educating young people, parents and employers on the range of apprentice- ships available and the progression routes on offer to an apprentice.
This way we can end the archaic notion that vocational learning is a poor relation to academic study.
For Hull especially, where in January of this year, 4,505 (or 13 per cent) of all 18 to 24-year-olds were claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance, there is an almost ingrained cynicism to contend with.
This ranges from those who, perhaps reasonably, feel we still have a long way to go in establishing apprenticeships as the credible route into a career, to others who remain under the impression that apprenticeships lead to nothing but dead-end jobs.
In truth, there is much to be positive about.
One can sense an overwhelming belief that this region’s time will come with the realisation of an ambitious Green Port project, and governmental support for the creation of a green workforce.
This coincides, nationally, with a new era for apprenticeships, with a series of financial and legislative measures that are geared to create a first-class way for our young to embark on a new career.
I firmly believe the pieces are slowly falling into place that will help young people to gain rewarding, fulfilling employment, and businesses to grow a more skilled, competitive workforce.
It’s up to us to show our young that apprenticeships work, and enable a more skilled, driven and productive workforce to get us back on the road to recovery.
The work starts here.
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