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"Complacency is not an option" when it comes to apprenticeships, says W Academy

Sheffield based apprenticeship training provider W Academy have acknowledged that although attitudes have changed towards apprenticeships in the business community, ‘complacency is not an option.’

The change in attitude is attributed to a combination of increased funding, greater numbers of young people applying for apprenticeships and easier accessibility to subsidised training.

With the economy entering a period of recovery, W Academy have placed 100 young people with employers across the region upon completion of their apprenticeship this year.

Despite their success, Marc Wildes, Director, explains that attitudes towards apprenticeships, both from employers and candidates, will continue to evolve.

He said: “Funding for apprenticeships remains consistent and opportunities across most industries remain available to school-leavers. Just this week, Nick Clegg has announced that £9.6m will be shared between Leeds and Sheffield to target youth unemployment.”

This isn’t the only positive figure for young workers and jobseekers across the region. The Centre for Economics and Business have undertaken research indicating that apprenticeship schemes could contribute around £3.4bn annually to the economy over the next decade.

“The government, who are looking to rebalance the economy by growing manufacturing, are pushing apprenticeships harder as they aim to increase income from exports to £1tn per year by 2020.

“Year-on-year, more young people are choosing to undertake an apprenticeship as an alternative to further or higher education. This trajectory will only continue with the increase in tuition fees taking its toll on young debt levels and families.

“Young people are looking at their options at the end of their education and are paying serious mind to an opportunity where they can earn while they learn.

“We expect to see a steady but continuous rise in the number of apprentices in 2014 as the alternative to higher education gains credibility both in terms of quality and breadth and opportunity to begin earning earlier in a career.”

And it isn’t just potential candidates who are changing their minds about apprenticeships. Economic recovery also means that the demand for skilled workers is outstripping the available workforce.

“Britain’s greatest shift in its working landscape since the industrial revolution from a manufacturing island to a service-providing nation means that trained specialists across the service sector are in high demand.

Marc continues; “There are only a finite number of skilled workers out there available to fill roles. If their skills are in high demand, then they’re already in work. Businesses are recognising the value of taking on someone with the life experience gained in an apprenticeship.

“I predict that employers will continue to recognise that, with an apprenticeship, they can effectively train someone up into one of these positions and are helping to mould a more professional and experienced worker.

“With state funding and subsidiaries, the cost is much lower than the traditional recruitment process of investing in a trainee or making a lateral hire.”

This change in attitude has been demonstrated in the consistent decrease in the number of young adults Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) since 2011 and with the unemployment rate at a three year low.

Speaking about W Academy’s success in the recovering economy, Marc added: “We’ve enjoyed placing so many young people into apprenticeships this year and, with the continuing evolution of attitudes both in school-leavers and employers, we look forward to placing another 250 in 2014.”

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