100 POSTS IN 100 DAYS

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Apprentice 100’s goal is to encourage employers in the north and north-east of Scotland to commit to taking on apprentices – even just one extra apprenticeship will count, and will make all the difference to our campaign.

We are aiming for a total of 100 apprenticeships in 100 days. Our campaign is open to any sector.

All employers have to do is pledge one apprenticeship or traineeship to Apprentice 100.

In return, they will feature in our campaign coverage and be placed on our exclusive roll of honour.

The campaign is being launched at a crucial time. The representative bodies of several sectors that are vital to the economy, including energy, hospitality and construction, have issued warnings about the lack of talented youngsters ready to step into full-time employment.

Apprentices

The problem needs to be tackled now. About 70% of firms in Scotland will be faced with a need to bring in more highly skilled employees in the coming years, according to recent figures from a top UK business organisation.

Apprenticeships are seen by many as the perfect antidote to this skills shortage, but not enough businesses are embracing them. The Press and Journal aims to change employers’ mindsets by highlighting the benefits that apprenticeships can bring to businesses and communities.

The campaign is not just aimed at engineering roles. We welcome the involvement of employers from all sectors who fund their own apprenticeships, as well as those who receive financial support through the Scottish Government funded Modern Apprenticeship programme.

Apprentice 100 has already attracted support from some of Scotland’s biggest companies, as well as renowned businessmen such as Sir Ian Wood, former chairman of energy giant Wood Group, and hotelier Stewart Spence.

Stewart Spence

In pledging his support for the campaign, Sir Ian said apprenticeships give young people a great opportunity to use marketable skills and lamented that they are currently being undervalued.

Sir Ian said: “Apprentices are in paid employment, develop skills that employers need, get good training, achieve a qualification, and have an excellent chance of continuing in employment.”

Politicians and business support organisations have also backed Apprentice 100, hailing it as the perfect way to champion the huge benefits of workplace training.

The Scottish Government’s skills and training minister, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “Apprenticeships offer a wonderful opportunity to start your career in a supportive environment, gaining practical skills from the very first day.

“For employers it is a chance to share your expertise with a new generation and create a long-term future for your industry with a skilled workforce.”

Laura Peacock, a manager at business support body Investors in People (IIP), said the campaign is an exciting opportunity for businesses and urged employers to think more about bringing young people into the fold.

Sir Ian Wood

Ian Garrett, chief executive of Aberdeen-based engineering training organisation Tullos Training, said: “Apprenticeships give young people a good route into industry. They get paid while they learn and gain experience in the workplace while attaining qualifications, so there is a progression.”

At the same time as our recruitment drive, a newly-formed jobs initiative called Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) launched in north-east Scotland. The business-led task force was created to enable more employers to recruit apprentices, improve links between education and employers, and to increase opportunities for young people in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

DYW was set up in the wake of Sir Ian’s Developing Scotland's Young Workforce Commission, which published its final report last summer.

The report, titled “Education Working for All”, found that schools were not equipping young people with the right skills, but that many businesses were not engaging with education providers to help fix the problem.

The commission set the challenge improving links between schools and employers, as well as increasing the number of work placements and apprenticeships on offer.

Amanda Boyle, director of DYW in North East Scotland, said: “Apprenticeships are an important part of developing the skills of the future workforce in our region but are currently offered by only a fifth of businesses in the north-east.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS), which delivers the government’s Modern Apprenticeship programme, said apprenticeships have an enduring appeal, because they are driven by employer demand and enable individuals to get a job and learn while they earn.

Gordon McGuinness, a deputy director at SDS, said: “In the last 20 years there was a drift away from apprenticeships with more young people going to university and college. That probably comes from their parents’ aspirations.

“Obviously, the job market has changed now. There’s more graduate unemployment and a distinct shift back towards apprenticeship programmes.

“Many older workers are now moving towards retirement and employers are faced with a dearth of young people in industry.

“Companies need to plan ahead more and think about how to develop new talent, because if they just go to the market and try to hire experienced people it tends to cost them a lot more.”

He added: “A lot of companies benefit from hiring young people, who bring more enthusiasm and different perspectives in terms of how they handle customers.”

Three-quarters of employers said apprentices improved productivity, while 71% said apprentices lifted morale at their companies, according to surveys carried out by SDS.

The Scottish branch of the Confederation of British Industry said: “We welcome the launch of the Press and Journal’s Apprenticeship 100 campaign in encouraging employers to hire an apprentice.

“Our most recent CBI skills survey shows that 70% of firms in Scotland anticipate needing more highly skilled staff over the next three years.

“To meet this skills challenge we need to expand and promote modern apprenticeships, along with other vocational programmes.”

Over the next 100 days, the Press and Journal will write about companies who have agreed to take part in Apprentice 100 and about the key issues surrounding the issue of youth employment.

Employers wishing to take part in the campaign should contact business reporter Mark Lammey on 01224 343375, or via e-mail: mark.lammey@ajl.co.uk

The clock is ticking – please back Apprentice 100 now.

 

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