· News

Lack of apprenticeships schemes cost economy £4bn a year

The UK is falling behind other G20 countries on apprenticeships, according to a study by think tank Demos. It has one of the lowest proportions of young people in programmes compared with its main economic rivals.

The Demos report Up to the Job, commisioned by British Gassuggests this could be costing the UK economy up to $4 billion a year, based on an estimate that apprenticeships raise employee productivity by £214 per week.

The report stated there is a supply problem in the UK. It found 54% of young people (16 to 24-years-olds) would choose to do an apprenticeship if one were available, but only 6.6% are on schemes. 

There are 11 apprentices in the UK for every 1,000 employees, but in Switzerland the figure is 43 and in Germany 40. 

To make up the deficit to leading G20 nations, the report recommended creating 300,000 apprenticeships. It is also suggested this would help to tackle youth unemployment.

Demos chief economist Jonathan Todd, who authored the report, said: “The UK economy is currently facing a twin crisis of severe youth unemployment and a shocking productivity gap. Both could be solved in one fell swoop by boosting apprenticeships. Britain is losing the global race and letting down its young people by not doing more to skill up."

Steve Goldthorpe, head of British Gas Academies, told HR magazine that offering the right apprenticeships is as important as the quantity.

"It's important to understand the skills needed for apprentices," he said. "We work with the Skills Council to make sure we do this. At British Gas we try to re-create a customer environment where people gain valuable experience of real work situations."