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Why are so many school leavers still struggling to find work?

I recently attended a Tech London 500 Apprenticeship evening hosted by the Mayor of London’s office, in City Hall, where I met the delightful Maggie Philbin, more on that later, and a raft of recent apprentices who blew me away. 

We’ve never hired apprentices before because we’ve never been able to find the answers to the questions above. But businesses like South East London Chamber of Commerce, BIMA, The Chartered Institute for IT, Creative Skillset and IPA, and guest speakers including radio and TV presenter Maggie Philbin, and CEO, Andrew Carmichael, Creative Pioneers London, enlightened me at the Tech London Advocates event, on the ease and cost effectiveness of bringing an apprentice on. Here’s what I learnt. An apprentice is ideally for life, but you need to commit to a year for them to complete their training.

One day a week they need to go to college to train. All recruitment, selection and training fees are paid by the government and handled by the companies mentioned above. They are paid the minimum wage, which is criminal, or ideally £12k a year. They get discounted travel cards. You get a talented individual, who is loyal, enthusiastic and often priceless. At the end of the year the apprentices get their qualifications, and you get the opportunity to invite them to join your business and continue their career with you. Can a 16 year old really work in my business and be accepted and effective? Ironically, our over reliance on degree educated and workplace experienced staff is creating a culture of risk adverseness and slowing innovation and growth. Even more of a concern is the growing age gap between businesses and their customers.  Okay, so your grandchildren are Gen Y, that’s not much help to your business.

Bringing in “new blood” will help to create the culture of your business and keep it relevant and exciting. You can’t mandate cultural change from the boardroom – it has to be subconsciously led by those on the ground. To that end it's time to stop the complaining about a lack of talent, and start helping those around us. Surely the best people to fill the roles in Britain's businesses are the leaders of those very businesses. Be the leader you always wanted to be, entrust the future to those leaving school and take a few risks before it's too late. Earlier this year we launched our Academy programme, offering interns a 12-week position to learn about all aspects of our business by working on real client projects in a supervised environment. Our view is that investing time and resources in young talent is a great way to recruit exceptional staff.  Exploring the potential for apprenticeships gives us another avenue to get high calibre candidates into the business. We're committed to updating you on what works and what fails, as well as running guest blogs from our interns and apprentices.

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