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You're Hired! - Apprenticeships Show a Surge in Demand
Alan Sugar
Apprenticeships are once again on the rise. The exposure from Alan Sugar can't have hurt of course, but the reality is that those who attend apprenticeships are far more likely to hear the words 'you're hired' than anything else.

Perceptions have never been higher: a full 81% of apprentice employers say apprentices make their businesses more productive and exactly the same percentage of consumers favour companies that employ apprentices.

All of which is pretty handy for the 685,000 young people now following this route and working with 100,000 employers in over 160,000 workplaces in England.

Training for 16-24 year old apprentices is fully funded by the Government and trainees enter one of nearly 250 training frameworks and over 1,200 job placements from nursing to graphic design, and horticulture to electric vehicle engineering.

Apprentices are employees within a company and are paid a wage, receive training for a specific job and gain recognised qualifications. The minimum apprentice wage is 2.60 an hour, although the average is 170 per week take home pay.

Matthew Sharpe
Matthew Sharpe is one of the latest Yorkshire 16-year olds to take the apprenticeship route. Having accepted an offer from Leeds-based cloud computing company virtualDCS Matthew said: 'I had to make the tough decision between university and completing an apprenticeship.

'When weighing up the options, I decided that due to a rise in university fees - along with the experience I would gain from the virtualDCS team - the apprenticeship would be a better route for me to take. I am very excited to join virtualDCS and to be a part of the future of cloud computing.'

Matthew will now be trained in a customer support role advising customers using a full range of cloud services, including virtualDCS's Vmware-based software.

Richard May, Managing Director of virtualDCS outlined the company's philosophy in taking on young trainees: 'We intentionally chose to hire an apprentice, rather than an industry specialist, as we have a wealth of knowledge we want to pass on to a new generation. We also felt that it was a great opportunity to contribute to our local Yorkshire economy and to give a young person a career, where often few are available.'

The virtualDCS team was able to find Matthew though partnering with training provider, QA Apprenticeships. James Nobes, regional consultant for the QA Apprenticeship scheme, congratulated Matthew on his new position: 'By working with virtualDCS Matthew will gain practical I.T. experience, while also gaining industry-recognised qualifications that will benefit him for the rest of his career, and avoid any debts or fees. Owing to a combination of youth unemployment and a rise in university tuition fees, more young people are choosing to join apprenticeship schemes.'

Matthew's experience is certainly part of a developing trend in our region. From academic year 08/09 to 10/11 the Yorkshire and Humber region has seen a 68% increase in apprenticeship starts. And further scrutiny of the stats reveals some very welcome developments: over the same period trainee takeup has risen by a very healthy 60% in the 19 to 24 age range, but ballooned by a fantastic 202% in the 25+ age group. Advanced and Higher Apprenticeships have also shown a very impressive 66% rise in the same time frame, with the highest growth, of 145%, coming in the crucial retail and commercial enterprise sector.

All of which is good news for those tasked with increasing the number of apprentices in England. The National Apprenticeship Service work to get the very best from the system for everyone involved, from the trainee to the employer, and to the wider community and economy as a whole.

And the Service still sees scope for further improvement to build on the great successes of the last few years. Anthony Knowles, Head of Employer Accounts in Yorkshire & Humber for the National Apprenticeship Service said: 'Despite the economic conditions our work in partnership with employers and other key stakeholders in Yorkshire and the Humber is yielding significant returns. We are creating a wider range and a greater number of exciting job opportunities year on year for 16-24 year olds via high quality apprenticeship training. Despite this there are still many employers who are missing the apprenticeship opportunity and the many business and economic benefits this brings.'

National Apprenticeship Week aims to convince exactly those doubters or undecideds who may remain out there, and, through showcasing the benefits of apprenticeship programmes, to demonstrate the enormous value such young people bring not just to themselves and the organisations they work for, but to our regional and national economies as well.

The Week runs from Monday 6 February to Friday 10 February 2012.



You're Hired! - Apprenticeships Show a Surge in Demand, 11th January 2012, 16:00 PM