Apprenticeships up in East London as uni applications drop

pic: Ema Globyte

The number of people interested in apprenticeships and other school-leaver recruitment schemes is soaring across London as the cost of degrees jump to as much as £9,000 a year.

Official UCAS figures revealed the biggest fall in university applications in more than 30 years, with a 9 per cent drop since last year.

At the same time a report from Office of National Statistics shows that participation in apprenticeships has been steadily rising since 2005 with an increase of 19.6 per cent since 2008-2009.

East London is responding to such interest by offering a number of apprenticeship schemes at the local councils as well as borough partner organisations.

Lewisham Council began their apprenticeship scheme in 2009, and since then have created 47 apprenticeships with the Council as well as 112 apprenticeships with partner organisations, such as Horniman Museum and Citizens Advice Bureau.

The Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, has said: “I am delighted and extremely proud that the work Lewisham Council and its partners have done so far to create apprenticeship opportunities has received recognition.

“However, this is only the beginning and just one of several measures we are taking to support young people,” he added.

Every year Lewisham Council is looking for apprentices to join for up to two years in a wide range of areas including business support, communications, policy and research and arts and events. The apprentices are usually recruited in May, and positions depend on what departments within the council require employees.

This year Lewisham recruited 6 apprentices to work within the Council as well as 3 to work with local organisations.

The effort of Lewisham Council has been recognised at the first Borough Apprenticeship Awards this year, in the category of ‘Best work with supply chains to create new apprenticeships’. The award was one for Building Schools For the Future construction apprenticeships, as well as active leisure apprenticeships with Fusion Lifestyle and a range of apprenticeships with Lewisham Homes and their contractors.

A number of organisations offer apprenticeships in Tower Hamlets borough. Tower Hamlets Homes, a company managing properties on behalf of Tower Hamlets Council, recently recruited 15 apprentices in customer service, business administration and care taking. Mears, a company Tower Hamlets Homes collaborated with, offered positions in electrics, plumbing, carpentry, multi-skills, business administration and customer service. The event received enormous interest from young people as over 700 applications had been received by the time the deadline ended on 3 October.

Gavin Cansfield, Chief Executive of THH has said: “We were really pleased with the level of interest in our apprentice positions and we hope to offer more in the future.”

There is a number of apprenticeships offered by Hackney Community College as well as Croydon College. Croydon College, in collaboration with Business Solutions, Croydon Skills & Enterprise College, are looking for apprentices to join business administration, carpentry and joinery, customer service, hairdressing, hospitality, plumbing, teaching and learning in school, health and social care as well as the Children and Young People’s Workforce departments.

Hackney Community College as well as Hackney Council also offer a number of apprenticeship opportunities. Although no positions are on offer with Hackney Council at the moment, Hackney Community college is offering a range of apprenticeships in accounting, business administration, childcare, carpentry, hospitality and other.

One of the Lewisham Council early apprentices, Charlotte Sumner, 19, chose an apprenticeship in Marketing and Communications during her gap year.

“I’m now based in the Communications Team where I’m getting the chance to do a whole variety of things – marketing, web-based work, media-related work.”

The experience within the industry has helped Charlotte realise that marketing is something she would strive to pursue a career in.

“After eight months with the marketing team I am very clear in my own mind that this is what I want to do. Ideally, once I finish my apprenticeship, I’d like to stay on with the Communications Team should a suitable vacancy arise and I get offered the job.”

Michael Balmforth, 21, who chose an apprenticeship in accountancy instead of a degree, told Eastlondonlines that fear of student debt was one of the main reasons not to go to university.

“Although the loan is ostensibly interest free, it does increase in line with the ‘real value’ of money, which means that if you cannot get a well paying job after you have graduated, you will begin to accrue interest very quickly.”

Karl Mason, from Open Doors Media, a London-based company offering careers and training advice, told ELL: “Young people are now very aware of the tuition fee rises and capped places at university, so are looking for alternatives.

“Apprenticeships are a good option as the learner has their tuition paid for fully by the government and doesn’t end up with massive debts compared with university graduates, who often lack hand- on experience and in the current economic climate can often struggle to get their foot on the first rung of the career ladder.”

A number of apprenticeships funded by the Learning and Skills Council are offered in Tower Hamlets College, Croydon College, Hackney Community College as well as in Lewisham College. They range across a wide spectrum of subjects and enable students to work in a variety of established companies.



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