One of the more surprising statistics about the UK is despite almost flat growth, our employment figures keep going up, with nearly 30 million in work at present. These admittedly good figures mask a very big problem indeed - that of youth unemployment. The Office of National statistics figures indicate that the last three months of 2012 witnessed the highest rise in youth unemployment for over a year. The number of 16 to 24 year-olds increased by 11,000 to 974,000 - that means more than 20% of the under 24 year-olds in this country are without employment or training at the moment.
At the same time it would appear that industry is crying out for skills that are increasingly in short supply as an older generation of skilled workers get set to retire. There are now signs that the government and industry are waking up to this challenge and are putting a lot more effort into creating a positive image for technical and vocational careers. We are seeing the fruit of this effort with the creation of apprenticeship schemes, such as the The Apprentice Pathways, launched last month, developed through the strategic partnership between the University of Sheffield AMRC and the MTA. But a lot more needs to be done to give our youth a stake in the future.
- Editor QMT