City of York Council celebrated their part in combating youth unemployment this week when they revealed that their York Apprenticeship Challenge has generated almost 200 placements in 80 local businesses for apprentices in the city since last year.
This target has far surpassed their expectations; laid out in June 2011 City of York Council in conjunction with The Press set a ‘100 in 100’ target aimed at helping just a hundred young people gain places on training schemes within the same amount of days. The venture was surprising in uniting both York’s Labour and Tory MPs who jointly supported the idea and welcomed the uptake from local employers, including the Council themselves, who were able to provide placements in administration, hospitality, retail, accountancy and science. As is stands there are currently 168 extra places available than the same time in the previous year.
This is good news for the city; investing in local young people to provide them with the skills needed to make 21st century York run like clock-work; effective businesses, excellent hospitality, skilled retail workers (as opposed to the poor service our country is world renowned for) and not forgetting the future faces of Science City York.
The National Apprenticeship Service provides research suggesting that every £1 spent on training a young person will generate and extra £16 to the economy from a level 2 qualified individual, and those who progress through the scheme to an advanced level are said to earn up to £100,000 extra over a lifetime compared to those without. This prediction is based on the fact that these schemes afford opportunities for young people with little experience of work to access a type of employment that is skilled and with career development prospects. As well as being good for the learners it’s also beneficial to the employer; as a government scheme the student’s ‘essential skills’ learning is funded and takes place at local colleges or learning centres.
This news will have come as a welcome relief to young people who face daily diatribes about rising youth unemployment and who may have also been refused countless jobs, offered jobs with bleak development opportunities or priced out of college. Apprenticeships are not for everybody though being aimed at those wishing to learn a particular trade or skill-set via a route that bridges the gap between an academic university or college course and unskilled employment.
Though this initiative is mostly positive there is always a cloud for every silver lining. It is not widely publicised that the hourly rate for apprentices stands at a poverty-inducing and unattractive £2.60 per hour in comparison to the current standard rate for those aged 16-17 being £3.68 per hour and £4.98 for those aged 18-20. While this may be conducive in attracting employers to recruit apprentices, it is not particularly useful for the potential trainees who need to earn a living wage and experience a decent quality of life.
At this stage there is also no research to evidence how many apprentices were kept in employment when their training, typically lasting between one and four years, ended. This would perhaps be a useful guide as to the long-term success of such schemes.
However, it should be much-admired and celebrated that the Council and local businesses in York were able to work together in such a way to provide some hope for the city’s young people who will no doubt be preying that that this venture will be repeated in the coming years.