At a time of high youth unemployment, with more than 1 million young people in the UK still out of work, there is a real need to create apprenticeships and find ways of getting our future generation trained and employed.
In a situation whereby the supply of skilled labour often fails to match employer demand and apprenticeships are rare, many young people are left feeling trapped in a cycle without work or future prospects. According to a survey carried out by totaljobs.com, it was found that 44% of university graduates wished that they had studied a vocational subject instead.
As part of the recent National Apprenticeships Week, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Young Labour have launched a five point campaign to strengthen and boost the number of apprenticeships both locally and nationally. Photos and tweets can be found under #myapprenticeship.
The argument for increasing and supporting further apprenticeship numbers has never been stronger with continuing levels of high youth unemployment. The key recommendations of this campaign suggest that there should be a new section called Apprenticeship Administration Service (APAS) under the Universities and Colleges Administration Service (UCAS) application.
The group also argue that every educational institution should have representatives from local businesses, ensuring the transition from education to employment is improved, with greater apprenticeships, making long term employment a realistic reality.
The campaign emphasises the importance of apprenticeships in vocational settings, and lobbies that all apprentices should be paid the basic National Minimum Wage along with adequate legal checks to ensure the standard of apprenticeships remains high and valuable to young people involved. The group is also calling for contractors and partner organisations of local authorities to offer apprenticeships as a form of ethical procurement.
A quote from a previous apprentice from Southampton: ‘I cannot emphasise enough that there is a real lack of supply and variety in apprenticeships. This means that despite low wages there are also other barriers to entering an apprenticeship. Psychometric tests prevent those that are less academic and hinder those with practical talent not shown in grades.
We need to address the issues surrounding supply and accessibility of apprenticeships, so that as many people as possible get the opportunity to fulfil their dreams and ambitions.’
Co-Chairs Roxana Andrusca & Ryan Carter had this to say: “We as Hampshire and Isle of Wight Young Labour have united to improve the quality of apprenticeships provided for young people and tackle the shortage of apprenticeships across Hampshire and beyond. We want young people to be provided with meaningful training, and paid at least a National Minimum Wage.”
Ben Farness, campaigner on the day had this to add: “Apprenticeships not only reduce the unacceptable levels of youth unemployment, they also give young people the opportunity to enter lasting, skilled jobs and play a significant part in creating a more balanced economy”.
The campaign’s petition has successfully reached over 150 people so far – the petition calls on government ministers to implement these changes. The campaign has raised awareness of the current problems with apprenticeships, and has achieved the support of local and national companies and organisations. It is hoped that building on the campaign’s success will lead to an improvement in vocational opportunities available to young people.
Last but not least, the back-to-work initiative for long-term unemployed young people which will be included in Labour’s election manifesto is also a step in the right direction to reducing youth unemployment.
The Compulsory Jobs Guarantee would see young people out of work for 12 months or longer receiving a compulsory starter job. It would also apply to those aged 25 and over who have been out of work for two years or more, and will primarily be funded by a significant tax on bankers’ bonuses.
Roxana Andrusca is Co-Chair of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Young Labour. She tweets @RoxanaAndrusca