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Buck the trend with an apprenticeship

It seems like hardly a day goes by without there being some piece of bad news about unemployment: the jobless figures are on the rise and young people have been particularly hard hit. This is demonstrated in the fact that there are now more unemployed young people since records began in 1992 – 1.04 million are currently out of work.

This can be extremely demoralising for young people struggling to get a foot on the career ladder and wondering if they’ll ever get the job they dreamed of. Other economic news doesn’t help; the UK economy shrank in the last quarter of 2011. John Salt, director at recruitment firm said: "Whether or not the UK is technically in recession, for those out of work the situation is already dire enough.

"Today's figures merely confirm what our barometer has been telling us for three months now, that applications per job are at an all-time high of 23, with not enough growth in the labour market to absorb the numbers being laid off. What's more, the signs for 2012 just aren't good.”

This quote from John Salt captures the general mood around the issue of employment – there is a lot of negativity around and it seems as though young people will continue to find things tough. However, there are still opportunities around, particularly for young people who are willing to do something a bit different and perhaps take a slightly different career path to the one they had planned.

For instance, apprenticeships are an excellent alternative for young people who have perhaps been put off going to university, want a more practical education or an alternative to traditional employment options. Apprenticeships are currently being championed by the government, with many firms across lots of different industries advertising for young people to apply.

But why should young people consider undertaking an apprenticeship? One of the main reasons for doing so is that apprenticeships offer ‘on the job’ training that can be very hard to get elsewhere. For example, rather than learning in a classroom or lecture hall, the vast majority of apprenticeships offer practical job training that young people can use to boost their careers and learn valuable skills.

Quite often, these skills will also be transferrable, meaning they will be applicable to lots of different disciplines. So even if you decide that you don’t want to take your apprenticeship further once it finishes, you should end the period equipped with plenty of skills that will stand you in good stead elsewhere. The chance to do some real, hands on work through your apprenticeship can also be a big confidence boost: work experience is one of the key things employers look for in young people, and a successfully completed apprenticeship looks good on your CV. It also means you should have work references rather than just academic references, which is another bonus.

There’s no point in denying it: times are tough, especially for young jobseekers. However, there are still options available for young people and apprenticeships are a very good example of that, particularly for young people who like the idea of learning a trade or getting some hands-on experience in a job of interest to them. So, if you are currently trying to decide on your next steps and aren’t too sure of where to go, the option of an apprenticeship could well be something worth considering.