Firms quit government work experience scheme
By Jim Taylor and Jim Reed
Sainsbury’s is one of the firms to leave the scheme
Another company has left the government’s work experience scheme.
Maplin has joined Sainsbury’s and Waterstones in withdrawing its support.
It’s after critics claimed the scheme could exploit young unemployed people.
Ministers say they will listen to concerns and want it to work for employers and employees.
What is the scheme?
The government’s new work experience scheme was launched last January to allow people to get experience while keeping their benefits.
Jobseekers are invited to take on unpaid placements of between two and eight weeks.
Latest figures show that up until the end of November 39,000 people had taken part and half of them were off jobseeker’s allowance four weeks later.
But if someone quits after the first week of a placement they could lose some of their benefits.
What’s the problem?
Campaigners claim big companies are using the scheme to get cheap labour.
Twenty-one-year-old James Rayburn from Berkshire spent nine weeks stacking shelves at Tesco.
“I felt I was doing a proper job and going in there and doing what needed to be done. Then at the end of it I had nothing.
“They were kind of making the most out of me.”
Tesco says it has now taken on more than 300 unemployed people through the scheme, but is also now offering a paid trial instead of work experience with the promise of a job if it goes well.
It claims James was one of the first people to be offered a placement, and the maximum time anyone can work unpaid is now four weeks rather than eight.
What does the government say?
With more than a million young people currently out of work, employment minister Chris Grayling says firms trying to help should be encouraged rather than criticised.
“I simply don’t understand the mentality of people looking at this who are saying it’s the wrong thing to do,” says Mr Grayling.
“‘It’s slavery?’ They are simply talking nonsense and they’re damaging the prospects of the young unemployed.”
There has also been confusion between the work experience scheme and another, less common initiative, which forces some unemployed people to go on unpaid placements or lose their benefits.
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‘Pay-per-Neet’ scheme aims to help teenagers find work
21 February 2012 Last updated at 12:15
By Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent
Nick Clegg: Youth jobs situation “a real crisis”
Firms and charities are to be invited to bid for a payment-by-results scheme to try to get “Neet” teenagers into work or training, in a project launched by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
The £126m scheme is aimed at 55,000 teenagers in England with poor qualifications who are currently not in education, employment or training.
Mr Clegg says it will help youngsters “into the world of work”.
But Labour says the project is “too small and much too late”.
Chris Keates, leader of the Nasuwt teachers’ union, accused Mr Clegg of being responsible for an increase in Neets by scrapping the Education Maintenance Allowance.
‘Ticking time bomb’
Mr Clegg described the problem of rising youth unemployment as a “ticking time bomb”.
“Sitting at home with nothing to do when you’re so young can knock the stuffing out of you for years,” he said.
“We urgently need to step up efforts to ensure some of our most troubled teenagers have the skills, confidence and opportunities to succeed.
“Many of them will have complex problems: truancy, teenage pregnancy, a lack of GCSEs and health problems.”
Mr Clegg said to see teenagers who have left school with no qualifications “slumped on the sofa in front of the telly is not only tragic for them… but it stores up huge problems for the future if we don’t help them now”.
He said it was also about getting “crucial early years in a child’s life at school right” to “save on so much heartache later”.
“If you start early it then allows children to start their school career with a sense of enthusiasm for learning,” he said.
The scheme, part of the Youth Contract announced in the autumn, will invite bids for contracts worth up to £2,200 for each teenager who can be sustained in work, education or training for 12 months.
The target group will be 16- to 17-year-olds without any GCSEs at C grade or above.
The aim is for long-term savings from an early intervention.
Almost one in five young people aged between 16 and 24 are classified as Neet – with the most recent figure standing at 1,163,000.
This response from the government is aimed at teenagers at the lower end of this age range who are already at risk of “disengagement” from the world of work.
The organisations that win these contracts will have a free hand to decide their approach – with the emphasis on rewarding a successful outcome.
Payments will be staggered, so that the full amount will be paid only to contractors when young people have remained in work or training for a year.
The funding will reflect the highest level of Neet youngsters in this age group – with £14m available in the West Midlands, where 11.5% of 16- to 17-year-olds are in this category.
The project has been challenged by the ATL teachers’ union, which accused the government of damaging the chances of teenagers “by dismantling the careers and advice service and abolishing the education maintenance allowance”.
“We have deep misgivings that getting charities and businesses to provide support for unemployed youngsters outside the education system will undermine the likelihood of success,” said ATL officer Adrian Prandle.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne also said the Youth Contract would not help most young unemployed people.
Mr Byrne said of Mr Clegg: “He promised big answers to the problem of youth unemployment yet what we have got today is something that won’t help 95% of Britain’s young unemployed.
“This is much too small and much too late to tackle a problem that is likely to cost our country £28bn over the next 10 years.
“The government needs to bite the bullet and put in place a sensible tax on bankers’ bonuses in the next budget to help get 100,000 young people back to work.”
Meanwhile, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has branded critics of the government’s separate work experience scheme for young jobseekers as “job snobs”.
The scheme offers unpaid work placements in stores such as Tesco and Maplin to 18- to 24-year-olds who have been unemployed for more than three months.
Mr Duncan Smith said in the Daily Mail: “The implicit message behind these attacks is that jobs in retail, such as those with supermarkets or on the High Street, are not real jobs that worthwhile people do.
“How insulting and demeaning of the many thousands of people who already work in such jobs up and down the country.
“I doubt I’m the only person who thinks supermarket shelf-stackers add more value to our society than many of those ‘job snobs’ who are pontificating about the government’s employment policies.”
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John Hayes & Simon Waugh launch ‘new era for Apprenticeships’
Friday, 10 February 2012 09:40
The National Apprenticeship Service has launched the ‘new era for Apprenticeships’ campaign to promote Apprenticeships to employers, young people and parents.
The scheme aims to showcase the talents, skills and commitment of real apprentices in everyday workplaces. Six apprentices were chosen by the Government as the faces of the new Apprenticeships initiative. They feature current and former apprentices from vehicle manufacturer Bentley Motors, insurance brokers Blue Fin, telecoms group BT, builder’s Jelson Homes, housing association Incommunities and SEC Recruitment.
Please click on the video below to hear what John Hayes, Simon Waugh and the apprentices have to say at the Parliamentary reception launch:
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Want to be an entrepreneur? Enstitute is bringing back apprenticeships
If you want to be an entrepreneur, do you have to go to college?
In our story titled Stay in or drop out? The entrepreneur’s education fiasco, TNW Editor Brad McCarty states that the average public university (in the US) will set you back nearly $80,000 for a 4-year program. And a private school will cost in excess of $150,000.
“At the end of that time, you have a bellybutton,” he writes. “Oh sure, you might have a piece of paper that says you have a Bachelor of Science or Art degree but what you actually have is something that has become so ubiquitous that it’s really not worth much more than the lint inside your own navel.”
In New York City, two entrepreneurs aim to disrupt the traditional university form with a new education incubation model that’s reminiscent of old school apprenticeships. E[nstitute], which launched last week, features the city’s most notable entrepreneurs who will act as mentors to a class of aspiring young fellows.
Enstitute’s co-founders Kane Sarhan and Shaila Ittycheria (pictured below, right) have rounded up 31 of NYC’s top entrepreneurs from 15 companies to participate in their program as mentors including founders from Shelby.tv, Thrillist, LearnVest, Lot18, HowAboutWe, Nestio, Chloe & Isabel, Clickable, Holstee, Birchbox, Bit.ly, CrowdTwist, Veri, Warby Parker, WeWork Labs, Pixable, Local Response, Flavorpill and SinglePlatform.
Kane, who’s just 24-years old, has been living in New York City for 6 years. He learned enough in college to know that college doesn’t teach you enough if you want to succeed in the big city. But while he was in school he met entrepreneurs Jacqui Squatriglia and Nihal Mehta who changed his life dramatically, each helping him on the path to success. “Not only are they two people who’ve ‘made it’ and have built amazing companies, but their success has created opportunity for others,” he says over lunch in SoHo.
Shaila, on the other hand, became an entrepreneur through a more traditional route, working for 4 years at Microsoft after earning a Harvard MBA. ”And now I’m 30 with $100,000 plus in loans!” she says. So which path is the “right path” if you want to be an entrepreneur? Kane and Shaila are betting it’s not the traditional route.
How E[nstitute] works
The Enstitute program is open to 18-24 year olds who’ve earned the minimum of a high school diploma. For the first class, 15 fellows will be accepted and will be asked to relocate to New York City to participate in an apprenticeship for 2 years.
Enstitute is currently raising funds to cover the costs of housing, transportation and food for the fellows. No other money will be provided. Ideally, Kane and Shaila would like to have the students all living together, dorm-style, perhaps in a sweet loft in Brooklyn.
“Year one is all about the broader scope of entrepreneurship, while year two encourages the fellows to refine their focus and hone in on a particular area of interest. I think that approach is really smart, and the applicants will benefit from it tremendously,” says Nestio founder Caren Maio, one of Enstitute’s mentors.
In addition to the apprenticeship, Kane and Shaila are working with Dale Jasinski, a Professor of Entrepreneurship at Quinnipiac and Bror Saxberg, the Chief Learning Officer at Kaplan to develop an educational curriculum for the students during their two-year fellowship.
While Enstitute is currently a non-profit, it plans to grow a for-profit arm in the future, which would invest in the entrepreneurs once the fellowship is over and may explore other options like charging companies recruiting fees for hiring fellows.
What’s in it for the mentors?
I spoke to a handful of the 31 mentors who’ve signed up to donate time out of their hectic schedules for the fellows. They’re all trusting that Kane and Shaila will have a stellar group of applicants who will be fun to work with and can help them build their business while learning along the way.
“This program has a give and take that makes it much more appealing and easy to commit to than other mentorship opportunities,” says Ben Lerer, the founder and CEO of Thrillist (pictured right).
Brian Snyder the founder of the children’s iPad app Everything Butt Art says his participation in the program is a huge responsibility. “Someone may be delaying or forgoing college to learn from/with me! That carries a heavy weight.” Accordingly, Brian intends to dedicate as much time and effort as possible to foster what’s likely to be a mutually beneficial relationship. “Great ideas emerge from youth and I imagine learning as much as the Enstitute participant might,” he says.
But what if they could do it all over again?
Many of the entrepreneurs in the Enstitute program are running million dollar businesses. So if they could do it all over again, would they attend school?
Practical application and experience was far too sparse in my education. My participation in the emergence of alternatives like Skillshare, for example, has helped shape my attitude around “learning by doing”. Certainly there’s overlap, but practitioners and academics carry much different perspectives. If I was dead-set on becoming an investment banker, I would probably still follow a traditional path. However, if I had even the slightest interest in entrepreneurship, the countless potential benefits of Enstitute far outweigh the “risks.”
-Brian Snyder, Everything Butt Art
I wish something like this existed when I was younger. I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug really early on, but it was difficult to find helpful resources to tap into and learn more. A program like this certainly would have saved me a lot of headaches.
-Caren Maio, Nestio
I went through the traditional system several times (undergrad, masters in the UK, MBA in the US), but I know that I’ve learned most of what I know on the job. The brands of the schools I went to helped me before I started my first company…but I learned very little in the way of practical skills, even in my MBA.
-Philip James, Lot18
I would still have gone the traditional route because I wasn’t ready to think about working when I was in college. I was more interested in hanging out with friends and generally being a degenerate, which is something I wouldn’t give up for anything.
-Ben Lerer, Thrillist
Enstitute isn’t for everyone
Let’s make this clear: As it stands, you won’t receive any sort of official accreditation from attending Enstitute. And even with a housing and transportation stipend, New York City is a very expensive place to live.
If accreditation is important to you (or your folks), traditional schools have begun to offer courses for entrepreneurs, such as Columbia University’s Entrepreneurial Greenhouse, which is a way for students to launch a startup while at school, and to receive class credit and mentorship while doing so.
Ben Lerer warns potential applicants that being an entrepreneur is not as glamorous as they might expect. “It’s hard and even sexy companies need to do a lot of not sexy work,” he says.
Everything Butt Art’s Brian Snyder notes that Enstitute is the embodiment of ‘getting out what one puts in’. “Applicants will have more opportunity than they’ll feasibly be able to handle. Those that harness the opportunity will graduate from the program with their own startups on a path toward success or jobs lined up with fascinating, world-changing companies. All the while, they’ll be living in New York City, a place ripe with opportunity for anyone with talent and ambition.”
(As the program grows legs, I’d like to see a few scholarships given to students so the fellowship isn’t solely comprised of privileged kids from the Tri-state area.)
Enstitute’s founder Kane Sarhan also points out the obvious, adding that this program really isn’t for everyone, as “doctors need not apply.”
Interested in Applying?
Enstitute officially launched on Tuesday, February 7th, and has already received hundreds of applications from current university students and recent high school graduates, including one 17-year old who said he turned down a Thiel Fellowship (which offers 20 entrepreneurs under 20 years of age $100,000 to “pursue their dreams”) because it “lacked structure”.
There are certainly parallels between the two programs. The Thiel Fellowship, which is based in the Bay Area, emphasizes mentorship and business development and includes meetings, conferences, presentations, and other networking and professional events. Enstitute is trying to take a slightly different approach by offering an official curriculum with a speaker series, weekly dinners and homework assignments.
Money and programming aside, these programs, in addition to traditional incubators like TechStars or ERA, all strive to build long-lasting relationships that are beneficial for the entrepreneurial ecosystem so it’s ultimately about finding the right fit for you– which is how education should be.
Lot18′s Philip James points out that the program gives young people a safe way of finding out if they really have the resolve, guts and hard decision-making to be an entrepreneur. ”Everyone says they have an idea that will be the “next best thing”, but when you actually are given someone else’s money and have to produce on the vision, you’d be surprise at how many people can drown in the details. This will be an eye-opening experience for a lot of these fellows, but one that could be a life-changing opportunity.”
If school isn’t the right thing for you right now and you’re ready to make a 2-year, fulltime commitment to entrepreneurship in New York City, applications are due by March 31st. Bootcamp starts this August.
“Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”
Want to learn more about alternative education? Read:
- In 2011: How the Internet Revolutionized Education
- Stop teaching our kids to be employees, start educating entrepreneurs.
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Jobcentre Plus uses workfare!!!
The UK workfare debates heats up… and it soon comes apparent that even yours truly Jobcentre Plus is using workfare participants to make up it numbers.
No workfare participant will be able to undertake an Employment Officer role, however, DWP is cutting its “corporate administration budget” by 36% over 4 years.
It is now clear, that the least important jobs could soon be replaced with workfare participants.
The workfare job adverts
Lets select 3 – magic number lol. Just to make it clear, you have to contact Jobseeker Direct to find out who the employer is with… they were a little too shy to place “Jobcentre Plus” or “DWP” in the employer box, however, of course its workfare not paid employment (although they pay your benefit so are in every way your employer).
Technically speaking, “Secretary of State” holds the title… so you are in effect slaves of these persons (yes, the term applies to all Secretary of States – not just Work and Pensions).
Yes, why not shout about it?! No idea why the uppercase. This one too close to home… in Bury St Edmunds of the same county. The job description:-
This is a work experience placement available to customers claiming Jobseekers Allowance with little or no work history. The placement is working at the Job Centre at St Andrews House in Bury St Edmunds. Through a combination of job-shadowing,mentoring and coaching, the participant will gain an overview of office administration. Duties including (but not exhaustive); filing, minute taking/general admin duties/use of IT and possibly use of telephone to contact customers. A full CRB check will be conducted prior to starting. Personal Advisers must ensure interested customers sign a work experience consent to share form. CV and JCP application form should then be sent to Bury St Edmunds EA team.
With a wage of “JSA + TRAVEL”, hours of “25 – 30 per week” (was also in uppercase… ), location of ” EAST ANGLIA, IP33 ” and reference of “BSD/27427″.
Wait… a CV AND application form?! Not even a paid job …
Unlike the above (yes its uppercase again..) this is placed with a proper SOC code. The job description:-
***Work Experience Customers Only***Applicants must be aged 18 – 24 with little or no work experience and interested in administrative or general office work. Will be working with the public dealing with a diverse range of customers. Researching vacancy opportunities for customers (non LMS). Gaining customer service skills. Helping promote digital channels with customers.Must be able to provide acceptable means of identification for standard security verification checks. CRB checks will need to be undertaken and cleared before an offer of a placement can be made
With a wage of “BENEFITS + TRAVEL EXPENSES”, hours of “30hrs per week” (was also in uppercase… ), location of “CRAMLINGTON NE23″ and reference of “CRM/20576″.
This job is probably posting jobs on twitter lol…
Call centre job! The job description:-
***TELFORD Contact Centre*** TF3 4HB Working in a Contact Centre enviroment, Admin duties in an office enviroment. Will be expected to go to a 20 minute informal interview in the Telford room, Ground Foor, New Town house, Telford. START DATE: 19/12/11. ELIGIBILTY: Primarily aimed at younger JSA claimants aged 18-24 from week 13 up to referral to the Work Programme. There is discretion to refer claimants earlier than week 13 &, exceptionally, those aged 25+ who have no recent work history, & 16/17 where agreed – see guidance and/or RC.
With a wage of “NA”, hours of “25″ (how lazy), location of ” TELFORD TF3 ” and reference of ” TEL/64684 “.
Please Note: Did you see the start date? Job was actually posted on the 6th February 2012… so it seems this job has been advertised previously and a lazy copy and paste job without bothering to read it.
Do you work for Jobcentre Plus? Are you worried about your job?
Are you a jobseeker? Would you work at Jobcentre Plus for no pay?
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Minister’s anger over ‘job snobs’ opposing Tesco work experience for unemployed
Writing for The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Grayling said that 20,000 young people have already moved off benefits after finding full-time jobs after taking up work experience organised by jobcentres
By Robert Watts, Deputy Political Editor
Last Updated: 8:30PM GMT 18/02/2012
Chris Grayling, the employment minister, has described critics of a flagship Government scheme to combat joblessness amongst the young as “hypocrites” and “jobs snobs”.
Opponents of the work experience scheme have in recent days claimed it is tantamount to “forced labour” and “21st century slavery”, after it emerged that some of the positions offered included night shifts of shelf stacking for Tesco, the supermarket giant.
Until the Coalition government changed the law, it was possible for anyone undertaking unpaid work experience to lose their benefits.
As well as allowing young jobseekers to keep their benefits during eight weeks of unpaid work experience, the Department for Work and Pensions has found voluntary placements for people in supermarkets and other employers.
Writing for The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Grayling said that 20,000 young people have already moved off benefits after finding full-time jobs after taking up work experience organised by jobcentres.
He said the Government hopes find a further 100,000 more of these placement over the coming year.
“Short term work experience placements lasting a few weeks are of immense value to young people looking to get a foothold on the job ladder,” Mr Grayling writes.
“The critics are job snobs. The Guardian newspaper publishes stories attacking big retailers for offering short-term unpaid work experience placements for young people.
“But that same Guardian newspaper advertises on its website – yes, you guessed it – short-term unpaid work experience placements for young people.
“The BBC’s Newsnight joined in the attack on big retailers offering unpaid work experience. And on the BBC website? Yes, you guessed it again – an offer of unpaid work experience placements. It’s time we put an end to this hypocrisy.”
Mr Grayling lauded the example set by Sir Terry Leahy, the former chief executive of Tesco, who stacked shelves and washed floors before rising to the top of the country’s biggest supermarket.
The row has already lead to protests against the supermarket, with one of the group’s stores in Westminster forced to close yesterday due to protesters who chanted: “Tesco bosses hear us say, we won’t work if you won’t pay.”
Tesco has stressed that it would not have participated in the government’s work experience scheme if it was mandatory.
A spokesman for the company said the advert that initially sparked the row was an advert for work experience with a guaranteed job interview at the end of it.
Youth unemployment has proved a persistently damaging political problem for the Coalition government since joblessness amongst 16-24 year-olds passed 1million last November.
This was the first time this landmark figures had been reached since records began in the early 1990s.
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‘Back to work’ tsar at centre of fraud probe over claims ‘funding went on jobs lasting just a day’ | Mail Online
‘Back to work’ tsar at centre of fraud probe over claims ‘funding went on jobs lasting just a day’
Last updated at 1:43 AM on 19th February 2012
Emma Harrison’s company called A4e is being investigated for alleged fraud
The company run by David Cameron’s ‘Back to Work Tsar’ Emma Harrison is at the centre of a fraud investigation.
The Department for Work and Pensions confirmed last night that a probe into A4e – headed by Mrs Harrison – was under way.
A source at the company told The Mail on Sunday that on Friday afternoon, officers from Thames Valley Police visited the company’s offices in Slough, Berkshire.
The source said they stayed for up to four hours and demanded staff hand over documents and computer files dating back two years. He confirmed: ‘Police were in the office on Friday going back over contracts.’
The source added that police had indicated they planned to make further visits to other A4e offices throughout the country.
It is also the source’s understanding that the police were investigating claims that the company had put some people in jobs for just one day, but claimed the funding nonetheless.
It is believed that Work and Pensions Minister Chris Grayling was last night made aware of the investigation into A4e.
The company is majority-owned by Mrs Harrison, who has made millions from running her work programmes under both Labour and the Conservatives.
Last week it was revealed that she had been paid an £8.6 million dividend after A4e’s turnover rose to £234 million.
The disclosure that A4e is being investigated for alleged fraud will be an embarrassment for Mr Cameron.
‘Posh commune’: Emma Harrisons home Thornbridge Hall in Derbyshire which she shares with friends
Last year, he appointed Mrs Harrison as his ‘Families Champion’, giving her responsibility for getting problem families back into work.
Mrs Harrison, 48 – who is reportedly worth £70 million – is chairman of A4e, a global multi-million-pound training company. She was once jobless before she drove A4e from a small company set up to retrain redundant Sheffield steelworkers to an operation spanning 11 countries.
The firm has received Government contracts worth millions of pounds over the past 20 years.
Mrs Harrison with her husband Jim
Mrs Harrison lives with her husband Jim and their four children – two boys and two girls – in Thornbridge Hall, a Grade II listed 12th Century mansion. It is an opulent ten-bedroom property set in a 100-acre estate in Derbyshire.
They share their home with 11 close friends and the six children they have between them. Mrs Harrison has reportedly described the set-up as a ‘posh commune’.
After completing an engineering degree at Bradford University, she joined her father’s training company but eventually set up her own firm, Action For Employment, in 1991 to provide redundant steelworkers with training to find new jobs.
Multi-million-pound government contracts followed for the Sheffield-based company. In the year to March 2011, A4e’s turnover rose from £190 million to £234 million. Pre-tax profits rose by £5.5 million to £15 million.
Mrs Harrison has appeared on a number of television programmes, once trying to find worthy causes to help on a council estate in Dagenham for Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire.
In 2010, A4e featured in two episodes of the series Benefit Busters and earlier this year she was on screen again, guiding four celebrities in the BBC1 reality series Famous, Rich And Jobless.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: ‘We cannot comment any further on an ongoing investigation.’ But a source said that the probe related to fraud.
Thames Valley Police said it was unable to either confirm or deny whether A4e’s Slough premises had been visited by its officers.
A spokesperson for A4e said: ‘If there are any allegations or investigations of fraud in any of our activities, we will co-operate fully with the DWP and also anything referred to the police.
‘We have a zero-tolerance policy of fraud in A4e.’
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INNOVATION AND GROWTH APPRENTICESHIPS – HOW COULD THEY
INNOVATION AND GROWTH APPRENTICESHIPS – HOW COULD THEY WORK FOR YOU?
The CfA and SFEDI, in partnership with the Peter Jones Foundation, are currently organising a series of workshops with employers across the country to explore how a higher apprenticeship in innovation and growth would work and add value to the development and competitiveness of businesses, both small and large.
The workshops will explore not only how businesses currently develop understanding and skills in enterprise, innovation and growth amongst their staff but also the ways in which an innovation and growth apprenticeship scheme would work, such as induction of the apprentice, the knowledge and skills required by an apprentice, the activities they would undertake and the training and development that would be provided by the employers.
The workshop for the North East will be held in Durham on Monday 27th Februaryat The Rivergreen Centre, Aykley Heads, Durham, DH1 5TS and will run from12:00-14:00 with lunch and refreshments.
Why should you come along?
The workshop not only provides you with an opportunity to exchange experiences with a group of other employers about developing enterprise and innovative skills amongst staff and the value of apprenticeships, but also your input will be used to develop an apprenticeship scheme which meets the needs of businesses like yours in the area.
We hope that you will be able to attend the workshop and in anticipation of your co-operation, we will contact you during the next couple of days to provide further details of the workshop.
In the meantime, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Leigh Sear leigh.sear or Jo Lee jo.lee.
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Peter Thiel: Your questions answered
16 December 2011 Last updated at 00:00
Peter Thiel invested in PayPal and Facebook, and has launched his own fellowships for entrepreneurs
We’re facing the biggest youth unemployment crisis in a generation, according to the International Labour Organisation.
All this week the BBC is focusing on the lost generation of young people and what’s being done to generate jobs.
We have given some young entrepreneurs the opportunity to put their questions to a business professional.
Peter Thiel co-founded PayPal which has more than 100 million active accounts. He also made the first outside investment in Facebook, a social networking hub that now has more than 800 million active members.
Victoria Coffey, Bangor, Northern Ireland asks: How did the ideas come to you? Did you purposely sit down and think of something that was lacking or that could be bettered?
PETER: Innovation is not mechanistic; it is rare. It requires a blend of intuitive leaps and thoughtful analysis. It’s hard to say exactly what that blend is, but it always involves a serious attempt to solve a problem that will improve the lives of many people.
Gareth Brookes in Leicester UK asks: Many start-ups fail. When running a business in its start up phase and faced with tough trading conditions how do you decide whether to call it a day or continue riding the storm?
PETER: Have a specific plan that aims to solve a real problem. It doesn’t have to be a great plan—a bad plan is better than no plan at all. As long as you’re honest with yourself with the feedback coming in from all information sources, you should be able to adjust your plan from worst to better to best.
The other half of the equation is just as important. If your company isn’t focusing on a real problem for consumers, then it’s time to move on and build something else.
Vaughan Johnson in Shenzhen, China asks: What role can the internet and social media have for small companies and how best can I tap into it?
PETER: The internet has lowered the barriers to market entry for many small companies. And that’s great. But one open question is whether the internet is more like the auto industry of the 1920s or the auto industry of the 1950s.
If it’s like the new industry of the 1920s, there’s space for competition and for small companies to make progress. But if it’s like the mature auto industry of the 1950s, then it’s going to be very difficult for small companies to make progress, because big companies can easily copy any incremental innovations.
Ntombenhle, Johannesburg, South Africa asks: What are the main focal areas and issues when trying to differentiate yourself from competitors?
PETER: You want to do something that is both new and not easily copied. But you have to be careful because it’s easy to persuade yourself that you’re creating a new market.
If you open the first Burmese restaurant in Springfield, are you creating a new market, or just competing with all the other restaurants in Springfield? To create significant value, you need to create something that is truly new.
Jacob Lamoureux, Ohio, US asks: I’ll be graduating from college in May and launching a social entrepreneurial venture in the area of education. Having a rock-solid team of diverse talent is essential to our chances at success, so I’m wondering if you have any advice on how to put together a dream team. Where can I find prospective partners and how should I recruit them?
PETER: There’s no right or wrong time in life to become an entrepreneur. Is a college credential worth delaying your project by six months? It may depend on the project, but probably not. If you’re passionate about your venture, turn your passion into a compelling narrative that inspires others.
If you have a great idea, do it now. That’s why we created the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship: to help young entrepreneurs get started immediately when they have ideas that cannot wait.
German apprenticeships: A model for Europe?
What do you think Why not comment and tell everyone who may have an interest to comment too??
14 December 2011 Last updated at 00:03
By Nigel Cassidy Europe business correspondent, BBC News, southern Germany Apprentice Jascha Fauss could be looking at a job for life at Mercedes-Benz
Jascha Fauss may be doing the kind of thing that nearly two-thirds of young Germans do when they leave full-time education.
Yet he realises that, by European standards, he’s lucky. Nineteen-year-old Jascha is almost at the end of a three year, on-the-job apprenticeship at the giant Mercedes-Benz factory just outside Stuttgart in southern Germany.
His trade is mecatronics – a modern combination of mechanical and electronic engineering. It will set him up for what may well be a job for life – if he chooses to stay with Mercedes, which the vast majority of apprentices like him do.
Every year, the Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler takes on around 2,000 apprentices – that’s about a third of the German car industry’s yearly intake.
One in five is a woman. Nine out of 10 of the young trainees will land permanent jobs. Others may be offered short-term contracts.
Training plans vary according to the industry, but are always delivered after close consultation between future employers, educators and the government, which picks up part of the bill.
What’s notable is that even though the European economy is flatlining outside Germany, the commitment to invest in the skilled labour force of the future is continuing.
Training to be a skilled motor manufacturer can take years, making apprenticeships ideal
When the BBC visits, Jascha is out of the classroom, spending time on the production line with his personal “training meister” – learning the ropes of C, E and S-class car production.
“In my apprenticeship, I’m getting a grounding in every single element of the car, including metal shaping, welding and the most innovative techniques such as hybrid engines and fuel cell propulsion,” he says.
“It will equip me to work in different parts of the industry, opening up a lot of job opportunities for the future.”
Jascha adds that he has also learnt valuable social skills, as he constantly has to work with different groups of people and his training has included contact with customers.
Wilfried Porth is a main board director of Daimler, the man in charge of human resources and labour relations across the entire group.
Mr Porth says the German apprenticeship model cannot just be copied in other countries
His explanation of how the system works goes to the heart of another conundrum – why Germany’s model apprentice schemes have been less successful when transplanted to other countries, with the exception of the Netherlands and Austria.
“I don’t think you can just copy and paste apprenticeships,” says Mr Porth.
“You need a school system which supports it. We have this tradition in Germany of being loyal to the company. We also have a technology focus here in Germany. For that you need very skilled people.
“It’s a system supported by politicians and society – and needed by the companies.”
Firms like Daimler – and much smaller ones – play a large part in designing the training, partly through their chambers of commerce, but Germany also has a string of technical universities, whose main role is to equip the country’s future labour force.
Hagen Kramer is an economics professor at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, a popular training provider.
He says that such apprenticeship schemes have their roots in the country’s medieval guilds. But they play a major part in the continuing success of today’s Germany – in spite of the continuing troubles besetting the eurozone.
“The German economy is quite export-oriented – and one of its strengths is high-quality, hi-tech products,” says Prof Kramer.
Mercedes, like many other German industrial firms, has an extensive apprenticeship programme
“But you do need a plentiful supply of medium and high-qualified labour to deliver these products. Germany has what’s known as a ‘dual system’.
“The apprentices must be given structured training by their employer, alongside the general and vocational education they receive. It all ensures Germany has enough labour to do the jobs.”
For soon-to-be-qualified apprentice Jascha, a lifetime of work at Mercedes-Benz could be ahead of him – a prospect which he relishes.
But what is abundantly clear is that there’s little point in other European countries creating tens of thousands more apprenticeships if there’s no commercial demand for the precise skills the young people are to be taught.
For apprenticeships to work for young people, for industry and for taxpayers, the trainees need to be fed into long-term successful businesses, committed to planning future products and investing in the workforce which will be equipped to produce them.
And for countries that have all but lost their industrial base, that’s a tall order indeed.