Today’s apprentices – the entrepreneurs of tomorrow?

During National Apprenticeship Week earlier this month, Dragons Den personality and businessman Theo Paphitis spoke strongly in favour of the need to invest heavily in apprenticeship schemes in order to tackle the serious unemployment issue affecting the UK. Recent figures indicate that while one in four young people who leaves school with only GCSEs is out of work, the same split is true of graduates, highlighting just how badly the recession is affecting the next generation. But what impact might this figure have on the future of UK businesses? While the survival rate of existing businesses is already in jeopardy, the potential for new businesses to emerge is being affected by the absence of the next generation from the market.

Paphitis thinks that apprenticeships are the answer – training young people in real-world business skills as opposed to misleading them with academia. Pathitis’ most well-known business venture, Ryman Stationery, has a partnership with leading training provider Hawk Training, and many of its staff at all levels have been through apprenticeship programmes, giving a boost and a leg-up to school leavers and those who have taken time out of work.

And it’s not just UK businesses that are backing apprenticeship schemes. New York-based company start-up E[nstitute] has created a mentoring programme with 31 NYC entrepreneurs, open to 12-24 year olds with high school diplomas. The programme lasts for 2 years, and E[nstitute] is currently gathering funds to cover the housing, transport and food costs of the programme’s fellows. The programme, which will include a more general first year looking at the broader scope of entrepreneurship and a second year where fellows are encouraged to pursue their own focus, is designed to formally prepare young people for the world of work.

A survey was conducted on behalf of the National Apprenticeship Service, during National Apprenticeships Week, that revealed that 81% of SMBs planned on integrating apprenticeships in to their future recruitment strategies, and 75% believed that apprenticeships added value to businesses in the current economic crisis.  SMBs feel that employees gained through apprenticeships make contributions to their businesses more quickly and that they are more important to businesses than ever before.

Do you agree with Theo Paphitis – are apprenticeships the future for both Britain’s businesses and its next generation? Do you have, or would you implement an apprenticeship scheme? Let us know in the comments!

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