Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans yesterday to overhaul vocational schemes in the UK. Speaking at the Mini factory in Oxford, Cameron spoke of his intention to introduce year-long apprenticeships that will be graded on a three-point scale to put them on par with qualifications.
Speaking to 600 apprentices yesterday, Cameron said: “I said earlier this month that I want us to deal with the scourge of youth unemployment by giving young people more chances and choices in life. This goes to the heart of my vision for this country: backing hard working people who want to get on in life and making sure Britain competes and thrives in the global race.
“So I am really excited to be here today. What we’re announcing is going to make a massive difference to thousands of young people’s lives. It involves 2 things.
“One: we’re saying; if you want an apprenticeship, we’re going to make sure you do the best apprenticeship in the world. The reforms we’re announcing today will put employers in the driving seat and ensure that we deliver high quality training that supports you and our economy for years to come. And as the range of companies signed up today shows, these are apprenticeships in different industries and sectors meaning people have a real choice about the career they want and our economy is balanced.
“Two: we’re saying if you need help preparing for an apprenticeship or want to get straight into the world of work, we’ll help you too. We’ve been talking to some of the biggest companies in Britain, massive global brands where young people have a real opportunity to progress up the ladder, and they have said they want to offer 100,000 vocational training schemes for young people.”
Backing the new vocational training scheme are 60 companies, collectively known as Trailblazers. The firms pledging their support include Marks & Spencer, Tesco, National Grid, Barclays, BAE Systems and BT.
In total, 100,00 training places will be offered over the next two years.
David Tomkin, Chief Executive of The 5% Club founding member Atkins, said in response to Cameron’s speech: “There are some technically complex and time critical challenges which will need to be overcome in the years ahead, from population growth to climate change, and in many cases it will be down to the next generation to find and implement the solutions. It is vital that talented young people are given the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills which will allow them to deliver a better future for us all, and a commitment from businesses to invest in apprenticeship and graduate development programmes will play an important role in achieving this.”
Jonathan Lawson, CEO of Vision Express, said: “The UK is suffering from a dearth of skills, while at the same time experience high levels of youth unemployment. The government announcements on Apprenticeships are welcome, but the fact is business leaders need to come together on this issue in order to tackle the problem head on.
“The 5% Club has been launched to ask all companies in the UK to raise levels of graduates, apprentices and sponsored students in their organisations. Retail is one of the best career paths for young apprentices and sponsored students. It is vital industry picks up the baton on this issue.”
Tessella Managing Director Alan Gaby welcomed Cameron’s pledge to address the UK training and apprenticeship schemes: “Helping provide opportunities for the next generation is, I feel, a responsibility of business leaders, but can also be a source of immense satisfaction. It is especially important and relevant in today’s economic environment and amid the really tough challenges facing our country’s young people.”
What do you make of the government’s plans to overhaul the UK’s apprenticeship and training schemes?