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Stephen Studd

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Young apprentices hang in the balance


Stephen Studd, chief executive of SkillsActive Group, explores the highly successful Young Apprenticeship programme that is yet to hear of the Government's continued commitment.
Very few can escape the national headlines reporting on Britain’s jobless; a staggering 20% of 16 - 24 year olds are now out of work. It certainly is an extremely challenging time but if we are to work through the ongoing recession, education and skills development need to be funded and supported appropriately.

2010 – The year of commitments?

As 2010 drew to a close, not only had the Conservative Government's manifesto promised to create 20,000 further apprenticeships across key sectors, but The Queen also highlighted in her Christmas speech to the nation the key role sport should play in our society.
It is therefore enormously disappointing that the Coalition Government is now stalling on its promise to support the highly successful Young Apprenticeship (YA) programme, particularly the sports management, leadership and coaching programme.
"It is enormously disappointing that the Coalition Government is now stalling on its promise to support the highly successful Young Apprenticeship (YA) programme"
Launched in 2005, more than 2,000 14-16 year olds have successfully completed the YA programme. Completed during years 10 and 11 of secondary education, these young people have been given fantastic opportunities to achieve recognised, vocational qualifications and gain work experience with key employers within our sector.
Completed alongside core curriculum subjects such as english, maths and science, young apprentices follow the national curriculum for three days a week, with two days per week on average spent on the YA programme. This would total 50 days of structured work experience with one or more employers in the sport & leisure sector, which might include professional sports clubs, national governing bodies of sport, leisure centres, activity camps and fitness studios.
The programme has provided young adults with the employability skills needed to get a job, including the personal and social development skills that employers look for. It is now delivered by over 70 partnerships across England.

Proving its merits

Recently completed evaluation of Cohort 5 of the Young Apprenticeship in Sports Management, Leadership and Coaching (the period of the programme between September 2009 – July 2010) reveals many ways in which the Young Apprenticeship programme can be deemed a success.
Learner satisfaction and success remained high amongst a large cohort of 889 young apprentices, with nine out of ten pupils completing and achieving all core components. In addition, the evaluation shows that young apprentices learned skills commonly identified as 'skill shortage vacancies' by employers such as technical, practical or job-specific skills, problem solving, team working, oral communication and customer handling.
As a result of the development of these skills, 27% of the young apprentices who responded to the evaluation were offered paid work by an employer with whom they completed a work placement. At a time of record levels of youth unemployment, this is a fact that the Government should take into account.

The bleak outlook

In previous years of the YA programme, the policy and process for future cohorts have been released 12 months before teaching begins. Following this model, Sector Skills Councils, including SkillsActive, should have been informed of the Government's funding commitment in September 2010. This would allow time for the Young People's Learning Agency to allocate funds to delivery partnerships, and for learners to be recruited ready to start the programme in September 2011.
So far, the Government has not announced its commitment, so none of this essential process can begin.
"With youth unemployment at its highest since 1992, this programme has offered young people a much needed career pathway and helped employers to source enthusiastic, skilled talent for their workforce."
Over the last five years, schools, colleges and employers have demonstrated incredible dedication, hard work and commitment to establish a hugely successful programme and these efforts are now, unfortunately, in danger of being lost to indecision and uncertainty.
With youth unemployment at its highest since 1992 and numbers of those out of work surging to one million, this programme has offered young people a much needed career pathway and helped employers to source enthusiastic, skilled talent for their workforce.
The Young Apprenticeship programme is vital; if we fail to provide such avenues into the workplace, it will have a devastating impact on young people, their families and the economy. The loss of this programme will result in young adults being denied an opportunity to prepare themselves for a highly competitive jobs market. Furthermore, employers will struggle to find qualified, motivated youngsters to fill positions that are absolutely crucial to the provision of high quality sport and leisure services.
  • 98% of employers found that YAPs showed good attendance and behavioural skills throughout their work placements
  • 95% of employers stated that they felt the Young Apprentices was perfect for them
  • 100% of employers rated their recruits as satisfactory or better
  • 97% of Young Apprentices would recommend the Young Apprenticeship programme to others
  • Over 90% of students completed the programme and gained a level 2 industry specific qualification
Stephen Studd is the chief executive of SkillsActive Group. SkillsActive's role is to develop a framework of qualifications, training and continuous professional development based on industry requirements. The SkillsActive Group includes SkillsActive, the Sector Skills Council for Active Leisure, Learning and Well-being, and The National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure.


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