These are difficult times for employers and apprentices, with economic forecasts for this year estimating our economy will shrink by 9.2 per cent. Unemployment has risen and could increase two-fold to over 10 per cent. Covid-19 has had a significant impact on apprentice recruitment, with the pandemic affecting young people’s employment prospects disproportionately.

According to recent data, 13,732 apprenticeship starts were anticipated for the start of April, however only 2,693 were achieved.

In a recent interview for #SkillsWorldLIVE Apprentice minister, Gilligan Keegan, said her “biggest worry is the recruitment of new apprentices”, with businesses not currently focusing on apprenticeships and instead trying to keep afloat.

According to Centre for Economics and Business Research, "ECONOMIC IMPACT OF APPRENTICESHIPS" (2014), apprenticeships contribute around £34 billion to the UK economy, including higher wages, business profits and taxes, and reducing unemployment benefit schemes. It was reported that for every £1 spent on apprenticeships, the economy reaped £21.

More recently, Richard Dorsett, Helen Gray Stefan Speckesser and Lucy Stokes National Institute of Economic and Social Research, Institute for Employment Studies and University of Westminster, published their "Estimating the impact of Traineeships" Final Report (June 2019), which shows strong evidence to support the potential, positive impact of traineeships; suggesting that 12 months after starting their traineeship, 29% of participants had enrolled on an apprenticeship and 57% had started further learning.

Because of the clear positive impact apprenticeships have on the economy and business, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that any business hiring new young apprentices from the ages of 16 to 24 will receive a £2,000 grant and ages 25 and over will receive £1,500 for the next six months.

Sunak said in a speech to the House of Commons: “We know apprenticeships work. 91 per cent stay in work or go on to further training.” Companies will receive £1,000 to hire trainees in traineeships too.

Should I do an apprenticeship or a traineeship?

If you’re unsure what to do with the next steps in your future, you need to know if an apprenticeship or traineeship is suited for you.

Apprenticeships and traineeships involve full-time or part-time work where apprentices learn the trade while training at a college or organisation approved by the government. The main benefits of training with an apprenticeship are:

  • earning money while training
  • learning on the job as well as off job training
  • achieving a qualification
  • learning valuable skills towards your career

However, the difference between the two is that apprenticeships get paid and usually last for three to four years in a trade area, while traineeships don’t get paid and last anywhere from six weeks to six months in a non-trade area. Traineeships are designed to give young people the confidence to take the first step in pursuing careers and to learn work ready skills on work placements — companies are offering more traineeships to those who scarcely missed out on being offered an apprenticeship, for example, performing slightly poorer compared to another candidate in an interview or assessment.

Northern Powergrid utility apprenticeships

Currently, there are around 1,500 apprenticeship roles in the UK, with leading companies providing the experience you’ll need to achieve a career in your chosen sector.

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For example, Northern Powergrid, provider of EV charger installation and electricity distributor to eight million people across the North East, Yorkshire, and Lincolnshire, has partnered with UK energy and utilities organisations to create job-ready apprenticeships for a diverse and talented workforce. They are prepared with the knowledge and skills to provide a framework for workers in the utility sector to work within governments, regulators, and key interest groups. These apprentices will develop as key workers in investing back into communities, with 50 per cent of Energy and Utilities Jobs website traffic being female, a big win for encouraging women into science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) sectors.

Andy Bilclough, director of field operations at Northern Powergrid, said:

“The Energy and Utilities Sector will require 277,000 people over the next decade to deliver the essential services we provide for our customers.

“We’re one of 30 major organisations that form the Energy and Skills Partnership, working together to ensure the industry has the safe, skilled, diverse, and sustainable workforce needed to deliver essential services to the public now, and to meet the fast-changing requirements in the future.”

Find an apprenticeship near you.

I’m thinking of doing a traineeship

Traineeships can be useful in preparing young people for the world of work, for example in retail or painting and decorating. Quality work placements provide valuable work experience, with the length depending on which company you decide to join. You’ll be taught handy CV writing tips, interview techniques, and on the job skills.

You’ll be assigned a mentor to monitor your progress and make sure you’re receiving the experience you need to move forward. If you didn’t get at least a grade four (grade C in the old GCSE grading) in English or Maths, you could struggle to find a job and develop your career. Traineeships offer the ability to achieve these grades so you’re more employable in the future and perhaps earn a place on an apprenticeship in the future.

Find a traineeship near you.

Young people’s career prospects suffer the most in crises like the current time, with companies trimming recruitment and existing jobs. Government schemes and intervention is helping business get back on its feet and the next generation of workers to get started working towards their futures.

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