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Apprenticeship schemes must be more accessible, says Barclays HR director

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Apprenticeship schemes can be the driver for the most disadvantaged young people to gain employment, but they need to be made simpler and more accessible, according to Barclays HR director Lynne Atkin.

Atkin, who has been HRD of Barclays since 2009 and this year helped launch its first £20 million apprenticeship scheme, believes one of the major benefits of apprentices is they are a lot more likely to stay loyal to your company.

She told HR magazine: "With the ongoing problems of retaining talent, having an organisation with high retention rates is increasingly important and we believe retention rates will remain extremely high among our apprentices.

"However, in order to reach the most disadvantaged young people, these schemes must be made simpler in the application process and more accessible."

Barclays is also piloting the outreach programme, whereby its business clients have the opportunity to take on some of Barclays' apprentices. Atkin said: "It's about providing businesses with work-ready young people, which will help unemployment issues and also drive growth."

Barclays has so far taken on 500 apprentices overall and aims to have 1,000 by June 2013.

Atkin added companies have a responsibility to help the UK's youth unemployment issues and believes apprenticeship schemes can help. "I've always been conscious of youth unemployment problems in the UK and I wanted to help tackle this issue. I think other large companies should be responsible as well."

John Lewis last month announced it is taking on 80 apprenticeships in its first ever programme. Its head of partner development, Jane Beine said: "Employers must appreciate just what value there is in young people and apprenticeships are a way that the UK can get talent back on tap after a shortage. They can provide businesses with a perfect pipeline of loyal talent with long-term benefits for the company."

Watch our HR Lunchtime debate on navigating the apprenticeship minefield on HRTV or www.hrmagazine.co.uk/video