Apprenticeships: give young people the chance of bright future, help bridge social mobility and equality gaps and offer route out of economic crisis.
The potential of apprenticeships to increase opportunity for young people, especially those from lower socio-economic groups and BAME communities, and deliver the skills needed by the economy, is greater than ever as we start to pick up the pieces post-pandemic.
And right now, as demand from would-be apprenticeship participants is outstripping supply, the HomeServe Foundation is targeting employers to help and encourage them to increase the number of apprenticeship positions in the market – to help young people and to help UK plc.
Around 800,000 18-24-year-olds are expected to leave education this year, when – according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) – unemployment is forecast to rise by 6 percentage points. This would be twice as large as the increase following the 2008 financial crisis and poses a potential threat of an unskilled youth without a future career.
With education leavers most exposed to this surge in unemployment, and young people most affected by job losses so far, an additional 600,000 18-24 year-olds risk being unemployed this year.
Furthermore, not enough young people are getting the opportunity to be an apprentice: apprentices in 2018/19 showed a pattern of being beyond the age group of those immediately leaving education shown by the 295,700 (75%) of apprenticeships that were started by people aged 19 or over. The remaining 97,700 (25%) of apprenticeships were started by those aged under 19.
The situation is even more challenging for people in the BAME (black & ethnic minority). unemployment rate for BAME (black and ethnic minority) workers has risen at nearly “twice the speed” of the unemployment rate for white workers, according to a new TUC analysis of official statistics.
The analysis of figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the BAME unemployment rates have shot up from 5.8% to 9.5% between the final quarter of 2019 and the final quarter of 2020, increasing nearly-two thirds.
Also, access to apprenticeship opportunities for young people is also key to social mobililty. Between 2011 and 2019, the number of apprenticeship starts from those in lower socio-economic groups reduced by 8%.
On the other side of the equation, there is a rapidly increasing need for skills, and nowhere is this seen more than in the construction sector. A recent report from the HomeServe Foundation – the UK Domestic Trade Skills Index – found that More than 1.25 million extra construction trades workers are needed by 2030, with at least 305,000 construction and trades apprenticeships needed to boost the construction trades sector as a whole.
In total, 228,000 apprentices are needed within the 11 trades in the construction sector, with 61% of these are electricians, carpenters and plumbers. Therefore, without a significant increase in apprenticeships now, the UK will face a chronic shortage of skilled labour that could push up house prices and the cost of home repairs and improvements.
And the incentives for businesses and government could not be greater. Overall, construction apprenticeships will support an estimated £25.7 billion in economic activity over the next decade through nearly 860,000 jobs. This creates a stable future for the economy as 93% of apprentices stay in their jobs following their apprenticeship.
Helen Booth, Director of the HomeServe Foundation said:
“While the HomeServe Foundation is calling on the Government to bring the right incentives and make it easier for apprenticeship opportunities to be created, our real focus is on working with employers to realise the benefits of employing apprentices.
“We know the demand is there from young people in our communities, we know the social upside, we know that the need exists for skills and we know that the payback is there for our economy. Our role is to bring employers on the journey with us so they can play their part and we can all reap the benefits.”