It’s National Apprenticeship Week, a time of year when we all take a moment to reflect upon and celebrate apprenticeships, and the positive impact they can have on the individuals who use them, businesses, and indeed the wider economy.
But this year, the celebrations come with a caveat.
A recent report into the UK Job Market has highlighted some very positive developments in the apprenticeship scheme, whilst also revealing anomalies which suggest that the overriding purpose of apprenticeships might be remaining unfulfilled.
The most surprising figure is that the number of apprenticeships available within a particular area, seems to bear little correlation to the respective population size, skills gap, or level of unemployment within that area.
There are currently 16,107 live apprenticeships in the UK, with the crucial area of engineering performing best in this regard.
London and the South East combined, account for 28% of all apprenticeships within the United Kingdom, a huge discrepancy in population terms alone, but when you consider aspects such as skills shortages in other areas, as well as high unemployment rates, the gap becomes more difficult to fathom.
“People want to work, but many lack the skills to match the available jobs in their areas. This is particularly true in the North, and yet apprenticeships have gravitated towards the comparatively successful South. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation: which came first, the apprenticeships or the successful companies willing to train?”
It’s easy to see why the release of this document has sparked controversy, with many regions outside of the South East posting disappointing employment growth figures. But Andrew suggests that perhaps businesses in other areas should be doing more to secure a higher uptake of the apprenticeship scheme
“Apprenticeships are the kind of investment that takes some time to pay dividends. It’s understandable that during tough times, employers weren’t thinking this far ahead – the pressures of keeping employees in work and companies afloat overrides the kind of long-term thinking exhibited by apprenticeships. It’s time for companies in the North to make themselves heard. Their flourishing manufacturing, trade and construction sectors are building the foundations for tomorrow’s economy. With help, they’ll be able to rise to the challenge of securing the future of Britain’s skilled labour market too.”
There are some other very interesting employment figures released in the document, which we will be bringing to you over the coming days.
In the meantime, we would love to hear why you think there has been such a large discrepancy in the creation of apprenticeship places across the UK.