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Statistics show that youth unemployment in the UK continues to fall, with Labour Market statistics from last November showing 16% of 16-24 year olds were unemployed compared to 22.5% in 2011. This trend looks set to continue as the government works to make good on their pledge to create 3 million new apprentices by 2020.

Offering young people real workplace skills and aligning them with training and jobs with employers is making the best of the potential of the next generation of workers. It works well for employers who are able to train young people on the job before any bad habits creep in, while also offering valuable work experience, training and a wage to apprentices.

The current minimum wage for apprentices is £3.30 per hour, which has led some to complain that the apprenticeship system is little more than a way of securing cheap labour. However, an apprenticeship asks for no tuition fees, with the training being paid for by the employer, and the range of apprenticeships that are available had increased dramatically.

Apprenticeships needn’t be seen as a lesser option to university any longer, with higher level apprenticeships being the equivalent to a degree, they are just a different route into work.

Apprenticeships look good for reducing youth unemployment further, but also look good for the nation’s economy, which is something that other countries have already recognised. Australia boasts 39 apprentices per 1,000 employees, German has 40 per 1,000, and Switzerland has 43, compared to the UK’s current standing of just 11 apprentices per 1,000 employees. It is estimated that boosting the number of apprentices to similar levels would add £4 billion per year to the British economy.

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