More must be done help organisations access government funding for apprenticeships, according to the outcome of a roundtable event organised by the Employers Forum on Age (EFA).The meeting, which focussed on apprenticeships, was one of a series of discussions to explore the issues facing young people as they begin their careers. It was attended by delegates from leading employers BT, Asda and IBM, as well as representatives from Beachcroft, The National Apprenticeships Service and London Workforce Development.
The event highlighted that while companies employing an apprentice under the age of 25 receive full government funding, many employers are desperately in need of more information on how to access this help. It was pointed out that employers also need to be better educated about the business benefits of employing apprentices, particularly those who can bring a degree of life experience to their role. Delegates suggested that employers who dedicate more time to training their apprentices will help them to develop valuable transferrable skills which will be of benefit both to their career development and to future employers.
There was also concern that school career services are not doing enough to make students aware that taking up an apprenticeship is a viable alternative to taking a degree, with students often being led to view vocational training as a ‘lesser option’. Delegates stressed the importance of family and friend networks to help young people find the right path for them, which may not always be a university degree. Denise Keating, Chief Executive, Employers Forum on Age commented: “Apprenticeships are a great way for people of all ages to get a foot on the career ladder, and to learn valuable skills which will help them break into full-time employment, but at the moment too many people see them only as an option for a limited number of people. The debate at this event showed that while some employers are already experiencing the rewards that employing apprentices can bring, others would like more information about how best to go about bringing them into their own business. Education for schools and families, and support for employers must be seen as the first steps for making apprenticeships more widely accessible.”