Apprentices may bridge post Brexit labour shortages, employers’ campaign claims

Imran Khan
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Female mechanical engineering trainees learn precision engineering at Siemens training centre (Source: Getty)

Apprentices can help bridge the gap of labour shortages if the UK loses access to skilled workers following Brexit, research by apprentice and graduate entry to work campaigners, The 5% Club, claims.

In a survey of 200 UK employers, 89 per cent said that Brexit would make no difference to the number of apprentices they will take on. Nine out of ten (90 per cent) of respondents said that improvements in the quality of information offered by school’s career services could help to change the image of apprenticeships at a national level.

Launched three years ago by Balfour Beatty Chief Executive, Leo Quinn, The 5% Club has been established up to encourage cross-industry action to tackle skills shortages and to reduce youth unemployment. Membership of the The 5% Club includes many of the UK's mst well known companies such as Babock, Pinsent Masons, KPMG, Cobham, Kier and VIsion Express.

Director General of The 5% Club, Lady Cobham, said: “It is positive to see employers reaffirm their commitment to apprenticeships despite the uncertainties presented by Brexit.

“Importantly, our members recognise that a more pressing need is around dispelling the myth that apprenticeships and ‘earn and learn’ placements are reserved for young people with less intelligence and that higher education is the only route to success,” she said.

Challenging assumptions that apprenticeships are a lesser option to higher education also featured highly in respondents’ concerns. Some 87 per cent of the employers surveyed felt that more should be done at a government policy level to promote apprenticeships as an alternative option alongside higher education routes.

Hiring concerns amongst employers surveyed pointed to the availability of information on apprenticeships in schools as a significant issue with three-quarters (76 per cent) of respondents citing this as the main barrier to young people taking up an apprenticeships.

The 5% Club said the survey shows that uncertainty about access to the EU labour market following Brexit has not changed employers’ confidence that apprenticeships can help bridge the gap should the UK lose access to skilled workers.

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