John Hayes

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the number of people who have started apprenticeships has risen this year.

Its not just traditional apprenticeships which have experienced a boost, there's also been a huge increase in those partaking in Skills for Life courses which help improve basic skills. The recent hike in university fees and general cost of education has scared some people who have since decided to avoid that type of higher education.


The Skills Minister, John Hayes, says that this is welcome news. "The Government has put apprenticeships at the heart of our skills policy because they equip people with the skills they need for a prosperous future and provide businesses with the expertise they need to grow."
 They are are a good alternative to a university education and some would say are more relevant to the difficulties of getting a job in today's climate.

Mr Hayes also commented on how reassuring it was to see the areas into which people were taking their apprenticeships. He acknowledges the fact that the country is trying to rebalance its economy since some feel we have become too dependant on the financial sector to our peril. So its encouraging to see apprenticeships in manufacturing and engineering. He stresses something we've heard in the past, however, about the need to ensure that the focus is not on the availability of apprenticeships but rather on their quality. It is definitely a case of wanting good quality learning rather than quantity. The Government is very much on board with the idea that an apprenticeship needs to be worthwhile and give the necessary skills to help the apprentice achieve long term employment at the end. This is the main reason why the Government introduced the need for apprenticeships to be at least twelve months long to ensure that valuable experience is obtained.

Apprenticeships are recognised as a valuable way of helping with the persistent issue of youth unemployment, although it isn't just younger people taking part. They are of course also useful to those who are looking for a career change post redundancy for example. However, sixty eight percent of those taking part are under the age of twenty four. Recent figures also showed that the number of sixteen to eighteen year olds not in full time education, employment or training has risen. This is despite the Government's aims to ensure more people remain in higher education until aged eighteen.

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