Could apprenticeships help companies kick-start recruitment?

·3-min read
Although France is an exception, many countries have seen a drop in new apprenticeship contracts.

Apprenticeships could be set to increase in companies in the coming months, providing young people with opportunities to put their skills into practice while securing employment more quickly.

An apprenticeship is a way of learning specific skills on the job while also studying. While the exact conditions vary from country to country, apprentices often start at around 17 years old, although the schemes are usually open to people of all ages. Traditionally covering manual jobs like building trades or artisanal occupations, this type of training is gradually expanding to encompass service sector roles.

Carl Ennis, CEO of the multinational Siemens, penned a letter to his imaginary 16-year-old self, published February 19 on the UK media site FENews. In it, he details how he doesn't regret training as an apprentice despite his father's concerns at the time: “Don't worry about Dad not liking the decision to do an apprenticeship rather than following an academic path. You can trust me when I say that when you show him your business card from GEC [General Electric Company], he'll come round.”

Young people tend to view training through apprenticeships more favorably than older generations. According to a study of 1,268 young people carried out by Academos in Quebec, more than half “believe that school has poorly prepared them for the job market.” Plus, 27% of respondents consider that teaching is too theoretical, and they would like to have more practical advice to guide them on to the job market. Among those polled, 17% consider that the classes proposed are not representative of the reality of the employment market and do not allow them to approach the market in a concrete way. As a result, they're thinking about turning to more practical studies.

The effects of the covid-19 pandemic

The pandemic has spared nobody -- not even apprentices with placements in companies, it seems. Speaking to the British newspaper The Guardian, February 9, Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFAteched), explains that: “The number of people starting apprenticeships halved over the first national lockdown and we're still waiting to see the impact of the continuing restrictions.” For the 2019/2020 academic year, the government notes 718,950 people in apprenticeships in companies in England, a 3.2% drop compared to the previous year. Government data also shows that new apprenticeship contracts for 2019/20 were down 18% on the previous year.

However, Jennifer Coupland remains optimistic. “Many employers plan to resume recruitment as soon as possible and want to use apprentices as a key part of their Covid-19 recovery plans. The institute has rolled out measures supporting more online learning and assessment, enabling apprentices to continue training and complete their apprenticeships despite the pandemic," she told The Guardian.

500,000 apprentices in France, up 40% on 2019

In France, the government is celebrating record recruitment of apprentices in the nation's companies in 2020, with almost 500,000 apprentices, a 40% increase compared to 2019. This increase can be explained by the government's strategy to drive apprentice recruitment, notably with financial incentives for businesses. These incentives range from €5,000 to €8,000, depending on the age of the apprentice.