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Apprenticeships should fit local economy

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At a Get My First Job roundtable experts discussed the apprenticeship needs of different regions

The government and businesses should be tailoring apprenticeship schemes to different regional economies, according to Andy Durman, managing director of labour market information firm EMSI UK.

Speaking at a roundtable hosted by Get My First Job, Durman explained that different areas of the UK have different apprenticeship needs.

“For example, in Birmingham we can see that apprenticeships for teaching assistants and chefs would be very useful,” he said. “The expanding population means more teachers are required, and the strong social scene means there are many restaurants that need staffing. However, the number of manufacturing roles in the city has fallen by 14%.”

Durman warned, however, of the dangers of focusing on certain skills at the expense of others. “Detroit is an example of the flipside of this,” he said. “It relied on automation, and when that fell it was crippled. But then Detroit was able to attract some businesses that required transferrable skills, like aerospace manufacturing, as it had the resources and labour force available.”

Euan Blair, founder and CEO of apprenticeship provider WhiteHat, suggested that schools should present more options for students, rather than automatically pushing them towards university. “Young people are often driven towards the university path,” he explained. “When you speak to them you find there’s not a huge number who want to work in areas such as care or hospitality.

“However, you can build a solid career in areas like these. Hospitality, for example, is one career with the potential to quickly earn high wages, or manage a team, if you are good at it. But it’s not marketed very well.”

Laura-Jane Rawlings, CEO of not for profit organisation Youth Employment UK CIC, expressed concern that there are too many groups advocating for apprenticeships rather than one consistent message. “Where should students go if they want information?” she asked. “There are employers, councillors, and the government, but they need one single place to go. If we all try to solve this individually it could still be a problem in five years’ time.”