A North council has seen a fall in the number of young people using its apprenticeship service despite a hunger from local employees to take on staff.
Newcastle City Council has blamed a lack of clarity to young people and parents following a Government ruling back in September 2013 that requires pupils to remain in education or training until the age of 18.
The council service, which has been running for the past three years, has helped secure employment for more than 90% of its recruits and has received positive feedback from the small to medium sized companies using it.
But the council is finding that the amount of applications for apprenticeships through the main sources - Connexions and the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) - has reduced to what it has been in previous years.
Elaine Withycombe, employment and skills coordinator at Newcastle City Council, said: “The main obvious change to previous years is the raised participation age.
“From discussions with the likes of Connexions and some other providers some opinion is that perhaps the message isn’t necessarily clear to young people and parents of what the options are.
“But the participation age being raised for young people does not just mean they have to pursue full-time study at school.
“It includes full-time work or volunteering combined with part-time education or training. It also includes apprenticeships.
“Employers can expand their team with a young, vibrant person. It’s about succession planning, bringing young people in and training them up to replace retiring workers.
“All too often young people go back to school and quickly realise that it’s not what they want.
“They’d prefer to learn on the job, gain qualifications and enjoy money all at the same time.
“We’ve had great feedback from the employers who use our service and there’s definitely no shortage of demand for trainees.”
Care Bellerby was an administrative apprentice with Three Motion Media, in Newcastle, and has just been promoted to junior editor within the company.
“I have developed my skills and my confidence through being an apprentice,” she said. “The help and support I got from Newcastle City Council was beyond my expectations, they gave me support to make sure that I’m progressing through my apprenticeship as planned and that I’m learning everything to a good standard.
“You will learn on the job, building up knowledge and skills, gaining qualifications and enjoy money all at the same time. It was the best decision I ever made.”