Are Apprenticeships Letting Young People Down?

Christne Townley, Executive Director of the Trust talks on how the current approach to training is failing young people.

New research by the Local Government Association reveals that thousands of young people in England are becoming qualified for jobs that don't actually exist.  The numbers of apprenticeships in areas such as hair and beauty workers, personal trainers and media professionals are soaring whilst not enough people are being trained in areas such as construction and building services, where there are jobs. The LGA is warning that this huge ‘skills mismatch' is the result of colleges receiving funding based on studying and passing qualifications rather than on job outcomes.  

To put it into perspective, the LGA reports that last year fewer than 40,000 people were trained to fill around 72,000 new jobs in the building and engineering trades, and in the construction sector around 123,000 people (including just 44,000 16 to 18-year-olds) were trained for around 275,000 advertised jobs – which equates to more than two jobs for every qualified person.

Unfortunately, this isn’t unexpected. Whilst the Government’s drive for work placements and apprenticeships should be applauded, even more needs to be done to ensure young people are directed towards apprenticeships which will help them towards careers and jobs at the end of it – like construction.

The LGA is now calling for the Government to look at how devolving responsibility for education, skills and training to local partnerships – made up of local authorities, schools, colleges and employers – will allow them to match skills training with local jobs. This is would allow these local partnerships to match skills and training provision to local needs and allow local employers to play a pivotal role in preparing young people for work. For me, this makes perfect sense.

At Construction Youth Trust we are already encouraging young people into apprenticeships based on local jobs need and we are passionate about helping disadvantaged young people overcome barriers to help them towards a career in the industry. We already work in partnership with companies, schools, colleges and local authorities to engage young people to enable them to make informed choices about a career in construction but still need the support of more colleges and careers advisors.

We owe it to young people to ensure the apprenticeships we are encouraging aren’t the popular ones which colleges receive funding for, but the ones which will lead into permanent, sustainable employment.