Comment: Why apprenticeships matter

John Chilver

John Chilver

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With National Apprenticeship Week about to start (14 to 18 March), the spotlight is being placed on all apprenticeships have to offer to employers and job seekers.

The County Council is keen to support the development of apprenticeships and to encourage students to consider apprenticeships as a next step in their careers.

The Government has recently announced an ambitious target to create three million additional apprenticeships by 2020.

All employers with a wage bill of more than £3 million will be required to pay a levy of 0.5% to fund new apprenticeships in a bid to kick start the programme. The result of this investment will be a number of new opportunities for people to consider their future training and employment ambitions.

Apprentices are paid, skills-based programmes which put students straight into a working environment and provide key practical knowledge.

They’re an excellent alternative to higher education for those who are eager to experience a more vocational route into work.

Higher level apprenticeships were also introduced in 2016/7 which offer programmes equivalent to degree level.

Apprenticeships play an important role in closing skills gaps and offering an attractive pathway into fulfilling employment opportunities.

In Bucks, unemployment rose to 2,890 people in January and the number of young claimants (18-24) rose to 545.

Skills shortages exist in a number of areas including programmers, software development, administration, business sales, nursing, social work, etc.

The need for employers to consider apprenticeships has therefore never been greater, and the opportunity for students to find a programme that leads to real job opportunities is also at a prime.

The council is setting its own ambitious target to increase apprenticeship opportunities.

I am looking forward to seeing the difference that increasing our apprentice intake has within the County Council and would urge employers across the County to consider doing the same.