YMCA Cambridgeshire & Peterborough backs new national research that shows apprenticeships boost young people’s career prospects
YMCA Cambridgeshire & Peterborough backs new national research that shows apprenticeships boost young people’s career prospects

YMCA Cambridgeshire & Peterborough has spoken out about the positive impacts of apprenticeships as new research is released today that shows four in five young people would recommend them to others and more than three quarters say they have improved their skills and career prospects.

Work in Progress – a report released by YMCA England ahead of the Government’s new Apprenticeship Levy that will help secure funding for three million apprenticeships over the course of this Parliament – showed that young people overwhelmingly backed the benefits of a vocational route into work.

YMCA Cambridgeshire & Peterborough runs an Access to Employment programme that works with young people in the local area to improve their job opportunities. Part of this scheme includes recommending and arranging apprenticeships with local businesses as the charity believes young people should be made aware of the positive benefits of an apprenticeship to help them in their career choices. The charity has recently started working with local apprenticeships and training provider TrAC who hold regular apprenticeship events for YMCA residents to promote apprenticeships in construction.

In fact, almost four in five young people (79%) who took part in the research said they were offered a job at the end of their apprenticeship while more than three quarters said it helped to improve their responsibilities (77%), satisfaction (78%) and salary (81%) when in the workplace.

Jonathan Martin, Chief Executive of YMCA Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, said: “Apprenticeships are a great way for young people to earn while they learn the necessary skills needed for today’s job market and they are a positive experience for the majority.

“Not only do they prepare young people for the workplace, but they also provide effective routes into employment. Working with over 50 young people a year through our Access to Employment scheme, we have seen first-hand how learning new skills can boost young people’s overall confidence and set them up for a positive future.

However, while we welcome the Government’s focus on investing in the value of apprenticeships, we believe there is still room for improvement. Young people need better careers advice in schools to open up further options to them, a more realistic work-study balance that protects them from exploitation and improved support from employers to help them afford basic living costs. By putting these provisions in place, more young people will rightfully see apprenticeships as the progressive option our research has proven them to be.”

However, despite the positive prospects they afford, young people also highlighted to YMCA a number of concerns around apprenticeships, including the perception of them as a second class route to work with less than one in four (22%) receiving information on them from teachers and lecturers.

Young people also spoke of the difficulties they had covering basic living costs while on the schemes as well as coping with work-study balance. YMCA found that many had no choice but to study at home and on weekends during their apprenticeship due to a lack of time in core working hours.

More than 400 young people with experience of apprenticeships aged 16 to 26 years old and from across England and Wales fed into Work in Progress. Other findings include:

    • Almost two thirds of young people (63%) were left to search the internet to find out about apprenticeships.
    • More than a third of young people (34%) felt more could be done to improve the amount of support and advice available prior to undertaking an apprenticeship.
    • A third of former young apprentices (34%) said they would have liked to have spent more time studying while almost a quarter (24%) said they found it difficult to balance study and work elements of their apprenticeships.
    • Just over one third of young people (35%) said the salary they received while on an apprenticeship was enough to cover basic living costs.

Heather, aged 25, was supported by YMCA Cambridgeshire & Peterborough with a Business Admin and HR Apprenticeship. She commented: “Doing an apprenticeship was difficult at first as the wages were only £400 a month, but luckily I was living at home so it made it easier for me to manage my finances. That aside, I found it useful for developing my admin skills and confidence in the workplace. YMCA has been really supportive and I have recently joined the charity full time in the marketing team.”

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