Apprenticeships have an important role to play

Chancellor George Osborne
Chancellor George Osborne
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Youth unemployment has been a pressing problem for many years. The government has now moved to publish much more honest figures about those young people who have been long-term unemployed and they make for serious reading.

It is apparent that many of those leaving school are not making the transition between education and employment and this is a crucial moment.

Establishing early habits of work and ambition help build success that lasts a lifetime. The reverse is also true – slipping into extended unemployment as you first enter ‘working life’ can have a lasting impact on confidence, on ambitions and on prospects.

We need to do more to help people bridge this important moment. One thing the government is doing, and it’s working, is offering more apprenticeships.

In May 2010, George Osborne announced the ambition for 50,000 extra adult apprenticeships and over the past year we have seen the addition of more than 103,000 new places.

In the first nine months of the 2010-11 academic year, we saw more than 100,000 under-19s started an apprenticeship – an increase of 10 per cent.

Here in Hampshire, there has been an almost 30 per cent increase in the number of people beginning apprenticeships over the last academic year, with almost 14,000 taking up places for 2010-11.

Apprenticeships are about more than just learning a job and getting paid. Instilling ambition is key and part of this is opening young people’s eyes to the possibilities around them.

They have a central role to play in introducing young people to new industries, opening up a real career path and in providing training in the key skills which are in demand.

As an example, tourism is a vital part of our local economy. It contributes £2.7bn, provides the equivalent of 65,000 full-time jobs and has great opportunities for growth. But it urgently needs young people with the right skills – and apprenticeships can help deliver them.