Charlie Mullins, Founder of Pimlico Plumbers

Youth unemployment, crime on the streets and the skills shortage are three very real problems, and the solution to these is are so close to being rolled out across schools nationwide through apprenticeship education… but we’re not quite there yet.

The government has promised 3 million apprentices by 2020, which is an ambitious and admirable promise, but no easy feat. To achieve it, we need businesses and apprentices to go into schools to teach kids about the alternative options to University.

I’m a huge believer in apprenticeships and we’ve got to get to a position in the UK where they are not seen as a second rate option.

What I want to see from the government is the proper provision of apprenticeship advice in schools.

Apprenticeships are a second lifeline to some kids out there, and for others it’s their leg up on the ladder of opportunity. They give our youngsters a chance for a better life, and we should be explaining this to them from day dot, in fact it’s our duty to.

Becoming an apprentice is the perfect way to teach kids about commitment and dedication. When I was doing my apprenticeship, there were 100 times that I wanted to quit and 100 times I would have been fired, but what kept me persevering was the contract I signed as an apprentice and look where I am now?!

But, I think we’re finally making progress, with people starting to open their eyes to the benefits of apprenticeships.

Education minister, Jo Johnson, announced this week the high rate of students dropping out of university, with some institutions recording a 67% dropout rate of students during their university career.

I’ve championed apprenticeships my entire life, but now we need to really encourage kids to take up apprenticeships from school level. I’ve been convinced there’s just not enough information available to teens on vocational career options – so much so that I’ve done my own research into this and will be taking my findings to the Conservative Party Conference.

Yes, institutions need to urgently review the "value for money" of Universities, but beyond this they need to showcase vocational options such as apprenticeships as the best way to get a job for life. We should be encouraging students to earn whilst they learn instead of encouraging them to accumulate crippling amounts of student debt.

Universities are cash-hungry and guilty of encouraging young adults to rack up huge debts on a promise that there is no good life without university.

Not only do apprenticeships avoid this from happening, but allows them to learn a skill which will never go out of fashion whilst gaining real world experience!

Apprenticeships are built for youngsters and that’s who we should be pitching them to.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the older worker and I’ve always thought having a range of ages in the work place does a world of good for all staff. But if we start offering older people apprenticeships, we’re going to dilute the very purpose of what an apprenticeship is meant to do. We need to call training for older people ‘senior training schemes.’ Encouraging over 60s to start the same course as teenagers is a step backwards, it’s impractical and insulting.

Just think logically for a minute…

The work, pay, and commitment that you get in an apprenticeship – are tailored to suit our youths… not a 60+ looking to make a career change. 

I was reading the paper the other week and it showed that more people aged 25+ are taking on apprenticeships, than the youngsters. It's just bonkers! The fact is, a good apprenticeship is hard to come by, and they should be kept for the people who would benefit the most from it...school leavers!

So, let’s get into schools, shake the careers system up, educate kids on apprenticeships and turn them into a first tier option for teens… not a second class back-up plan.

Charlie Mullins, Founder of Pimlico Plumbers

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