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Apprenticeships key to harnessing young talent and addressing UK skills shortage

Apprenticeships provide a cost-effective way of helping businesses nurture young talent and could help address the UK's skills shortage.

The government recently outlined new plans to enable more young people to benefit from apprenticeships, such as providing cash incentives for small businesses and removing red tape. Apprenticeships can offer a cost-effective way of identifying and recruiting new talent, enabling employers to train young people on the job and develop industry-specific skills, while often reducing training and recruitment costs into the bargain.

Against a backdrop of rising youth unemployment, which passed the one million mark this month, the figures for apprenticeships provide cause for cautious optimism. The numbers of young people starting apprenticeships grew considerably in the last year, with a 15.9 per cent leap in the number of 16-24 year olds starting a programme. The number of apprentices over the age of 25 rose even more dramatically, by a massive 257 per cent. Importantly, the UK also has a high completion rate for apprenticeships of around 75 per cent, putting us on a par with the best in Europe.

However, recent research conducted by leading recruiter Adecco shows that there is still progress to be made. Fifty-seven per cent of employers do not operate an apprenticeship programme, and there is evidence that employers have yet to fully realise the benefits of offering paid or unpaid work experience placements for young people entering the jobs market.

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