Apprenticeships still in the headlines

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Employers have been urged to better market their apprenticeship programmes to GCSE students, according to HR Magazine.The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), the body, representing the training organisations who train 75% of apprentices in England, says not enough employers in the country know how apprenticeships can benefit their businesses and that this is limiting the number of young people being offered places on the highly popular programme after they have finished their GCSEs.
With a fifth of young people unable to find work and this summer’s school leavers swelling the ranks of those looking for employment or training opportunities, AELP is urging the Government’s National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) to work with providers to persuade more employers that apprenticeships represent an excellent investment with real returns for their business. England has a lower proportion of apprentices in the workforce compared with France and Germany and AELP wants to see a new marketing campaign emphasising why businesses cannot afford not to invest in apprenticeships, especially when the government can help meet the employer’s costs. AELP has welcomed the Government’s significant investment in apprenticeships with provisional data published in June showing that 326,000 people started the programme in the first nine months of 2010-11. But the number of people aged over 25 starting apprenticeships (121,000) was greater in that period than the number of 16-18 year olds (102,900) and of 19-24 year olds (102,800) starting the programme. Independent training organisations report that the surge in adult apprenticeships is because employers are placing existing members of the workforce on to the programme while the difficult economic climate is making it harder for them to actually take on new apprentices from younger age groups.
AELP is also concerned that any calls by Government on businesses to contribute more cash to funding apprenticeships at this time is absolutely the wrong message. Paul Warner, AELP’s director of employment and skills, said: “2011 has undoubtedly been a challenging year for training providers in trying to encourage employers to take on more young people as apprentices. Therefore we have to be careful not to raise unrealistic expectations among young people who received their GCSE results last week that an apprenticeship place is automatically there for them if they want it.

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