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Human Resources

Andrea Bertone (UK) - The Value of Apprenticeships in Light of Youth Unemployment

The jobs market remains challenging at the moment as UK unemployment rises to 2.62 million, a 17-year high. However, it’s clear that younger people have been hit particularly hard, with youth unemployment now at above one million in the UK alone despite certain sectors, like engineering and IT performing well in Europe.

Apprenticeship programs might be the answer as they give young people the chance to develop practical lifelong skills and help them clarify their professional interests. It’s a ‘win’ for employers as well, who have a great opportunity to cultivate future talent pipelines – and by ensuring today’s youth are well-trained, their future recruitment efforts will be far easier, and they’ll have to spend less time training full-time new hires. Indeed, it’s something that has worked in countries like Germany and Austria where a large percentage of teenagers take part in apprenticeship programs, and where youth unemployment is relatively low.

However, according to a report by the Centre of Economic Performance and the Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network, there are currently 11 apprentices for every 1,000 employees in the UK, as compared to 39 in Austria, 40 in Germany and 43 in Switzerland. Despite government backing, this demonstrates increased support is needed from businesses to back this approach.

One misconception is that apprenticeships are only appropriate for a select number of vocations or sectors. Again looking to Austria, there are hundreds of different jobs available to young people. And, just doing a quick search on our job site in the UK reveals available apprenticeships in sectors including IT, customer service, hospitality, retail and engineering.

Another significant challenge is the perception among many students that exploring apprenticeships precludes the option of seeking a higher degree – when in fact an apprenticeship affords students an opportunity to acquire practical experience, try out a specific field, and then go on to university if they wish.

In particular, it’s a good time for students interested in maths, physics, mechanics or IT to try out engineering related apprenticeships. Engineering has been one of the highest performing industries across Europe over the past year, and, according to Monster’s Employment Index, the sector saw an annual growth in recruitment of 33 percent from October 2010 to October 2011. This is an area where we expect to see continued demand for talent at all levels.

By Andrea Bertone, CEO of Monster in Europe.

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