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Apprenticeships: Get Involved

John Leech MP calls for more employers to give young people a chance

Published on February 27th 2013.

Apprenticeships: Get Involved

APPRENTICESHIPS work. They give Manchester’s young people the opportunity to gain the skills that employers are looking for: they are as important today as they have ever been.

Research conducted by Populus in 2008 revealed that 77% of employers believe apprenticeships make them more competitive and a staggering 83% of employers rely on apprenticeships programme to provide the skilled workers they need for the future.

Unemployment continues to be a major concern both locally and nationally. 4.4% of people that are eligible to work in the North West are claiming income support, and with the recent news that Manchester Central constituency has the highest child poverty rate in the country, it is clear that we need to do more to improve the future prospects of Manchester’s young people. That’s where apprenticeships can make a world of difference.

Following the National Apprenticeships week in August 2012, the aim was to create 100 new apprenticeships in 100 days. I was delighted to see that last year 490 young people were taken on as apprentices locally.

Helen Bradley, owner of the Macloed Bradley Hair Salon in West Didsbury, said, “The apprentices we have taken on from the Manchester College have been key to the smooth running of the salon business”. (ManchesterCollege.ac.uk)

Research conducted by Populus in 2008 revealed that 77% of employers believe apprenticeships make them more competitive and a staggering 83% of employers rely on apprenticeships programme to provide the skilled workers they need for the future. What about profit? The same survey found that 41% of businesses said their apprentices make a valuable contribution to the business during their training period, and a further third (33%) report that apprentices add value within their first few weeks (or even from day one).

The last two years have been excellent for apprenticeships locally, with the number of apprenticeships in Manchester increasing from 2580 to 4760 over a two year period - an 84% rise. In Withington, my constituency, the figures went to from 350 to 630 - an increase of 80%.

Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Business Secretary, has said that his ambition is for school leavers to see apprenticeships as being different, but of equal value to university degrees in terms of experience, job prospects, value for money and earnings potential. I share Vince’s view.

That is why this coalition government has taken huge steps to get more unemployed young people onto apprenticeship programmes. The ‘Youth Contract’ initiative has offered over £1 billion to help young people into work – which includes money for apprenticeships. More specifically, businesses that employ up to 1000 staff are offered £1,500 to take-on a new apprentice. This scheme led to the creation of 18,900 new apprenticeships in England last year alone, and has been so successful that it’s been extended to the end of 2013.

But more still needs to be done. There were over 1 million applications for apprenticeships in 2012, despite only 106,000 apprenticeships being advertised. That means that, on average, there were over 10 applications for each apprenticeship. We need to help those that were unsuccessful get back into work, or onto an apprenticeship, and find their feet again.

That is why we should be working hard to support this year’s National Apprenticeship Week that runs from the 11-15 March. After  a highly successful year for apprenticeships in Manchester 2012, 2013 can take even more young people onto a new and exciting career path through the apprenticeships programme.

If you are a business that employs up to 1000 staff, and would like to benefit from employing an apprentice, you may be eligible to receive a £1,500 grant for each new apprentice you take-on.

Visit here for more details. You might be helping someone.  

John Leech (pictured left on the image at the top of the page) is the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Manchester Witihington - this covers the council wards of BurnageChorltonChorlton ParkDidsbury EastDidsbury WestOld Moat and Withington. John Leech has a majority of 1,894 and has represented the seat since 2005. 


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