THE Government has urged employers to help create 100,000 more apprentices by the year 2014, pressing firms to say “you’re hired” to people eager to be trained.
Business Secretary Vince Cable has underlined the Government’s commitment to increase the budget for apprenticeships to over £1,400m in 2011-12.
He urged employers to follow the lead of firms such as British Airways, British Gas, BT, Superdrug, Jaguar Land Rover and Proctor and Gamble which are offering thousands of places to budding apprentices.
Dr Cable said that investment in training the next generation of highly skilled workers would be key to sustainable economic growth and called for an end to “outdated values” that have seen vocational learning branded a poor relation to academic study.
“I want to reinforce the message to business and young people that apprenticeships are a first-class way to start a career,’’ he said. “That is why my department has pledged to work to create some 75,000 additional adult places than those promised by the previous government.
“Some of the most prestigious companies in England – large and small, public and private – employ apprentices and benefit from doing so.
Skills Minister John Hayes has announced that greater recognition and status will be given to those who successfully complete their apprenticeships and made it clear that apprentices can progress to higher stages of learning through the apprenticeships programme, including to university.
He added: “Our ultimate goal remains to see apprentices achieve equivalent esteem and status with university graduates so that a place on an apprenticeship scheme is as valued as one at a university.”
Government plans to triple tuition fees to £9,000 a year from 2012 are fuelling an interest in apprenticeships, according to an ICM Omnibus poll commissioned by Pearson Training.
More than half of the 1,100 people questioned said the rising cost of higher education has made them think more positively about apprenticeships as a career choice for young people.
Nearly six in 10 (57%) said that young people who have completed an apprenticeship will find getting a job easier than a university graduate, while just a third (34%) think a university education is worth the money, not matter how much it costs.
Fiona McBride, Chief Executive Officer of Pearson Professional and Vocational Training said: “This research firmly dispels the myth that apprenticeships are in some way a second class option for young people.
“It reveals what we believe is a sea change in public opinion about the value of vocational learning and demonstrates a widespread understanding of the important role that apprenticeships play in setting young people on the path towards not just a job, but a sustainable and fulfilling career.”
Nine out of 10 employers see apprentices as key to the future success of their business over the next two years, according to a new report by vocational education organisation City & Guilds.