Government apprenticeship plans must be part of a long term strategy

image003The Somerset Chamber has welcomed the government’s plans to increase the number of quality apprenticeships and give businesses a say on how they are run, as outlined today (21st August) by the Prime Minister, David Cameron. The Chamber CEO warned, however, that this must form part of a long term strategy rather than being a quick-fix for youth unemployment.

Neil Murphy, CEO of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, said, “The Somerset Chamber welcomes the news that apprenticeships are a key government priority and that additional funding will be provided to stimulate take-up in rural communities.

“However, we have always held the view that this should be a long term strategy, and not merely a scheme to address youth unemployment. Quality apprenticeships with the end aim of Level 4 and Level 5 qualifications are a credible alternative to a university education, and create an environment where young people earn while they learn. This means young people are able to make a meaningful contribution to the economy earlier, being ‘work ready’ several years earlier than university graduates, and without a substantial student loan debt around their neck. Somerset businesses need skilled employees who are ready to work and seeking to make a career in the local area.

“The emphasis has to be on quality over quantity. The lack of commitment from previous governments to develop skills for manufacturing, for example, cannot be recovered in one or two years. Long term sustainable commitment from all key stakeholders is necessary.”

The Somerset Chamber of Commerce is one of only five accredited Chambers in the South West and 52 in the whole of the UK. It works closely with the British Chambers of Commerce to make sure Somerset businesses stay well connected at both a local and national level, and that the voices of the Somerset business community are heard at all levels of government.