As National Apprenticeship Week gets underway, the Journal’s Proud to Back Apprenticeships campaign has been given another shot in the arm, after research revealed Newcastle is among the UK’s top cities when it comes to securing the workforce of the future.
A new report by think tank Demos highlights how the highest concentration of apprentices throughout 2012 and 2013 was in Liverpool, closely followed by Newcastle, where the level of apprenticeship take-up was roughly double that of the poorest performing areas, like inner London and Manchester.
The Up to the Job report, supported by British Gas, also suggests that by increasing the number of apprentices in England to levels similar to other G20 countries, Britain’s GDP could be boosted by £4bn a year.
Making 300,000 more apprenticeships available, the think tank argues, would help bridge the productivity gap between Britain and competing nations, while reducing youth unemployment, currently sitting at 20%.
The report cites CEBR figures that show, on average, that an apprenticeship typically raises an employee’s productivity by the equivalent of £214 per week, leading to both increased wages and company profits.
However, Demos suggests England is lagging significantly behind other western economies with just 11 apprentices for every 1,000 employees, compared with 39 in Australia, 40 in Germany and 43 in Switzerland.
Fewer than 10% of employers in England offer apprenticeships, compared to at least a quarter of employers in other countries.
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.
“Policy since the early 1990s has focused on getting young people to university, but the half of young people who don’t study for a degree have been forgotten. Employers are the missing piece of this puzzle – the Government needs to make it as easy as possible for them to take a chance on an apprentice.”