Shake-up makes apprenticeships in UK more desirable

George Osborne

Ministers have announced the biggest changes to apprenticeships in 20 years and this could have a huge impact on the way businesses recruit school leavers.

According to sources close to the Financial Times, companies will be put solely in charge of training and this will allow them to claim government grants in return.

But will this really change anything? The answer is yes, of course it will. Previously, apprenticeships were seen as something of a dead-end for people looking to get into professional careers.

Many people thought they were just for school leavers who wanted to become plumbers, electricians or construction workers and while it was generally accepted they were a positive force for good in these industries, critics were sceptical as to how it could be adapted for more technical roles in IT, administration and retail.

George Osborne

Chancellor George Osborne announced the changes as part of his December 5th autumn statement and said apprenticeships are a huge part of the UK’s long-term recovery.

And with an annual budget of £1.5 billion set aside by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, it is likely that more and more school leavers will consider opting out of going to college in favour of getting paid to learn on an apprenticeship scheme.

Mr Osborne is believed to be a proponent of companies having more power over the way they educate new recruits and wants to take state control away from the scheme, something that has angered critics and opposition politicians but pleased the business community.

Supporters of the shake-up point to successes that similar programmes have had in Australia, France, Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland, all of which have lower levels of inequality than the UK.

A new start

Previously it was the case that many school leavers were left with the choice of either going on to do A-Levels, even if they did not like an academic learning environment, or hope they make it in the job market.

With youth unemployment levels at record highs and fewer and fewer businesses choosing to risk hiring unqualified, inexperienced 16, 17 and 18-year-olds, the latter option does not represent a viable choice for many young people.

The chance being given to companies to tailor their own training might not seem like big news, but to apprentices all over the UK who are currently hamstrung by excessive regulation and often not kept on because of a lack of regulatory flexibility, this is a great step forward.

Whereas previously new staff members were expected to immediately have the skills needed to get on with the job, this is changing and large companies like Rolls Royce, BAE and Nissan, as well as SMEs all over the country, are beginning to see the benefit of investing in bespoke training for their fresh starters.

This can only be a positive development for the UK economy, which has recently seen gains in gross domestic product, but remains stalled by a skills shortage and perennial lack of know-how among university graduates and school leavers.

It seems the UK is determined to continue taking steps to prove its worthiness in the global race by training the next generation of workers in fields from IT and administration, to retail and fashion. Could you benefit from an apprenticeship?

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