The drop unemployment figures is to be welcomed but don’t let it mask the worsening situation for unemployed youngsters says property maintenance entrepreneur Will Davies, who is a long-time campaigner for a return to traditional, time-served apprenticeships.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced last week that UK unemployment fell by 14,000 in the final quarter of last year to 2.5 million.
“These figures illustrate a significant increase in the number of people employed but the situation for under-24 year-olds is still worsening,” said Mr Davies – co founder of property maintenance and refurbishment company aspect.co.uk
ONS figures indicated that the last three months of last year witnessed the highest rise in youth unemployment for over a year. The number of 16 to 24 year-olds increased by 11,000 to 974,000.
“More than 20% of the under 24 year-olds in this country are without employment or training at the moment. That is a dire situation: no country can hope to return itself to a sound financial footing if it alienates 20% of its future workforce,” he said.
“The key issue is how we train youngsters for the world of work. The education system is obviously failing 20% of them and it is up to society to see that young people have opportunities to learn real, employable skills,” said Mr Davies.
The ONS figures show that 200,000 more people were in full-time employment by the end of last year and that the number of part-time workers had fallen by 43,000. 25,000 more workers had become self-employed during the last quarter of 2012.
“Vocational and skill based training has been treated as inferior to academic study for decades in Britain. We are now paying the price with skill shortages and massive youth unemployment,” said Mr Davies – who was an investment banker with Societe Generale before creating aspect.co.uk
“aspect.co.uk has returned to a system of old fashioned apprenticeships for our young workers. We are very pleased with all the young employees that we have hired and I can only urge other employers that if they can give young people an opportunity to demonstrate how keen they are to work; they will be astonished with the results,” said Mr Davies.
aspect.co.uk organised a series of apprentice boot camps last year to select candidates for their apprenticeships. Youngsters were put through a series of fitness, literacy and numeracy tests.
“The individuals who were prepared to contribute the most to a boot camp were the individuals who aspect.co.uk benefited most from employing,” said Mr Davies.
The sixth annual National Apprenticeship Week will run from 11-15th March. The week will host many events designed to raise awareness of apprenticeships and their value to individuals, businesses and the economy.