Tenants offered “apprenticeships in the home” : Directgov – Newsroom

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Nl1/Newsroom/DG_201297

This looks like an innovative option for Apprenticeships. I’d Be interested to know your thoughts.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

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Vital Rail recognised for commitment to apprenticeships – Rail News from rail.co

http://www.rail.co/2012/03/06/vital-rail-recognised-for-commitment-to-apprenticeships/

Vital Rail recognised for commitment to apprenticeships

Salford-based Vital Rail has received national recognition from Transport for London (TfL) and the National Apprenticeship Service for its support and commitment to apprenticeships.

Vital Rail, in conjunction with Vital Skills Training, which is one of the largest suppliers of training services to the rail, energy, mechanical & electrical and construction sectors, recently recruited its 88th apprentice, with plans to employ 270 by the end of 2012.

The firm was recognised, along with other apprentice employers, at an event to mark National Apprenticeship Week 2012.

Hosted by Transport for London, a certificate was presented by Peter Hendy, London’s transport commissioner to John Smith, CEO of Vital Services Group and Newham apprentice, Yasin Ali.

Apprentices are currently working on a project to maintain the Epping Ongar Railway heritage line and work towards providing passengers with a connection to the London Underground.

The project is being overseen by Lawrence Dobie, Director at Vital Skills Training. He said:

“We are extremely proud of our apprentices and are delighted to have received this national recognition.

“It is a pleasure to be working with Transport for London and the National Apprenticeship Service to offer such fantastic opportunities to budding apprentices.

“It’s an extremely exciting time for them, and us, with so many infrastructure projects coming to the fore over the next few months and it’s humbling to be in a position to support so many young people with their future career prospects.”

For further information on Vital’s Apprenticeship programme visit apprenticeships or call 0161 836 7024.

Paul ChampionStrategic Project Manager

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It’s time to overhaul Australia’s apprenticeship scheme. Apprenticeships Schemes all over the world are being looked at as the future of the economy.

http://theconversation.edu.au/its-time-to-overhaul-australias-apprenticeship-scheme-5716

It’s time to overhaul Australia’s apprenticeship scheme

The ACTU is escalating a push through its case with Fair Work Australia to improve the wages of apprentices, many of whom are paid below the poverty line. There is a case for this and it is long overdue, but the government also has a responsibility to increase and rearrange its financial commitment.

Considerable changes need to be made for this system of gaining skills and qualifications to provide a vastly improved foundation for the labour market and the economy with a flow-on benefit to the wider society.

Since 1996, when the Howard government came to power and embarked on the “New Apprenticeship System”, beneficial changes have been mooted and the same has occurred under the Rudd government and the Gillard government. But these beneficial changes promised by spruiking politicians have not occurred.

This is the time for radical policy changes.

Apprenticeships, particularly in skilled traditional trades including the traineeship variety in division two nursing, personal care, and information technology, are of crucial importance to the Australian society. Around 1.2 million workers are employed within the technical and trade sector, which represents more than 13% of all workers.

Without fitters and turners, bakers, carpenters, boilermakers, electricians, plumbers and gasfitters, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics, division two nurses, locksmiths, mechanics (including electronic and diesel) and printers – to name a sample – not a lot happens. These vocational fields all represent skill shortages.

Given the attrition rate – apprentices who do not complete their training – Australian society has a real problem. The final report for Apprenticeships for the 21st Century states “there is projected to be a shortfall of 36000 tradespeople in the resources sector by 2015”.

This is nothing new. Many of the above vocational areas have been in shortage for decades, as shown by the Senate Inquiry in 2003. But the problem persists.

The report identifies the problem succinctly. “Completion rates for Australian Apprenticeships are unacceptably low (about 48%). This represents a significant economic cost, given the time and resources provided for both on‐the‐job and off‐the‐job training. There are a range of issues that commonly emerge from the research about reasons for non‐completion, including workplace or employer issues, lack of support, low wages and not liking the work”, as well as literacy and numeracy concerns. I do not have an issue with the accuracy of the problems identified in the report.

However, the solutions I propose should be seen as quite radical.

I propose that large companies (500 plus) and the corporations no longer receive financial incentives for recruiting apprentices and trainees. Along these lines, I propose that grants are paid to apprentices that are tax-free when they reach milestones in their training and these grants are all significantly boosted particularly for older apprentices. The report isolates reasons why people do not complete traineeships and my view is that the salary is a major problem. I consider that financial incentives should be boosted and provided to small to medium and large organisations only (all under 500 staff). When for-profit companies receive financial incentives for apprentices they pay tax on the money received. I believe these taxes should be removed. It is pure folly.

The report called for a boost in wages. In my experience, the negotiations and howls will see this as a slow burner. But sharing the burden between the federal government and employers may prick up the ears of the Fair Work Australia commissioners. The problem needs major changes now and decisive action from the federal government. The problem is now worse than it has been in the last 15 years, so major change is needed.

Group Training companies employ and outsource their apprentices to industry. They are generally not-for-profit organisations and not so well known. The work they do – hiring out apprentices to industry – is invaluable to the economy, but they do so with poor incentives from government that certainly does not keep pace with inflation. A significant boost is due in this direction as well.

Major government contracts let to tender should have mandated conditions that require a certain ratio of apprentices on major works.

The apprenticeship pathway is extremely valuable. Qualifications and employment increase the health and wellbeing of those fortunate enough to have made this vital link. Apprentices are predominantly adults – it is an adult training program and significant shifts are needed.

The government needs to recognise that it is not a cost, but an investment in infrastructure. The economic modelling would prove that the return on investment to government would be sound when people obtain VET qualifications and pay increased taxes with a flow-on effect to reduced costs in health and welfare as more people are gainfully employed.

So, where to from here?

Can the federal government lead and implement big picture solutions? I have tried many times to get the ear of senior bureaucrats and ministerial advisers, but with limited outcomes. I have even written to the Minister for Tertiary Education last year asking for a meeting. The odd thing is that tradespeople work with improved technology all the time, but the technology and machinery underpinning government and related policies somehow lag well behind.

This is a disturbing circumstance as apprenticeships have amazing potential to build our Australian society and provide a dignified education pathway for quality employment, to thwart those educationalists and people who are misinformed and consider that all roads must lead to higher education. Those people are likely to have a different view of the trade pathway when a refrigeration mechanic arrives to repair the fridge, charges money for a call out and proceeds to indulge in critical thinking of a high order and fixes the problem. Respect has many dimensions.

Paul ChampionStrategic Project Manager

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Vocational Value: The role of further education colleges in higher education

 

Policy Exchange

 

“Gove is essentially implementing a programme developed for him in opposition by … Policy Exchange …” Prospect Magazine

Vocational Value: The role of further education colleges in higher education

Monday, 20 June 2011

Vocational Value: The role of further education colleges in higher education

Synopsis

There are many challenges facing the government and all providers of higher education and higher skills. This report looks at three problems, and argues that Further Education Colleges can play a strong role in responding to all three:

1) Higher education is not meeting the needs of employers: Higher education in further education is more vocationally focused and FECs are able to build on and exploit their strong relationships with local employers.

2) Not enough intermediate or ‘technician level’ skills: Higher education in further education provides for the delivery of vital intermediate and technical skills. Their distinctive offer is the delivery of so-called ‘short cycle’ higher education comprising Foundation Degrees, Higher National awards and professional qualifications – all below the level of the first degree and typically taking around two years to complete.

3) The costs of expansion: Short cycle higher education in further education is significantly cheaper than a full degree studied at university. As such, it provides an excellent opportunity to expand access to higher education and higher skills without incurring the costs attached to government loans of £9,000 a year for tuition fees.

Ralph Hartley Senior Research Fellow for Education, 2009-2011

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If you would like a hard copy of this report priced at £10 + £3 p&p then please email: janet.batterbee

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Policy Exchange is an independent, non-partisan educational charity seeking free market and localist solutions to public policy questions.

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Apprentices thrive in city – The Star Says – The Star

http://m.thestar.co.uk/lifestyle/the-star-says/apprentices-thrive-in-city-1-4312016

Apprentices thrive in city

Published: 05 March 2012

THE visit by members of the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee could not come at a better time. For they are looking into the question of apprenticeships…and this visit comes hot on the heels of a drive in Sheffield to encourage local businesses to take on more apprentices.

THE visit by members of the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee could not come at a better time. For they are looking into the question of apprenticeships…and this visit comes hot on the heels of a drive in Sheffield to encourage local businesses to take on more apprentices.

There is a long and proud tradition in Sheffield for people to enter their professions through this route, though they have become less popular in recent years.

And the current time, as the financial thumbscrews are being tightened around the local economy, fewer young people are being taken on as apprentices.

However, the city has held on to its tradition of recruiting young employees through the apprenticeship route and, judging by comments heard in recent weeks while the cause of apprentices was being championed across the region, their numbers are growing.

This is great news and we are sure that the committee members will leave Sheffield with plenty of ideas on how to give young people the all-important first step on the road to a rewarding career.

Charity’s work needs to continue

IT would be a real tragedy if the Victim Support charity is hit in any way by Whitehall plans to reform the criminal justice system.

Campaigners fear that the service could be cut, or even scrapped, under the provisions which suggest that local police and crime commissioners will be responsible for services provided to victims and witnesses instead of them being managed and overseen nationally, as at present.

If any proof were needed of the value of the Victim Support scheme, you have only to learn that last year it helped 7,415 people and we are sure that all of them would agree that it offers a vital service.

We hope that any changes that may be brought in will not affect the work done by the Victim Support charity in South Yorkshire.

Conference advert

TO many the contribution to the city’s economy from conferences is hidden from view. But it is nonetheless a valuable asset which is expected to bring in at least £2 million this year alone.

What is more conferences staged in Sheffield act as a great advertisement to delegates.

We are sure that once they have visited Sheffield and seen that it has so much to offer, many of them will be eager to return.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

Apprentice scheme is Real deal | This is Staffordshire

http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/Apprentice-scheme-Real-deal/story-15400861-detail/story.html

Apprentice scheme is Real deal

A NEW training company has been launched to create jobs for young people and help companies take on apprentices.

Stoke-on-Trent College has set up Real Apprenticeships Ltd, which aims to make it easier for firms across North Staffordshire to recruit apprentices, with an initial focus on the construction industry.

The company is working with the contractors leading Stoke-on-Trent’s £250 million Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, which will result in 18 schools revamped and rebuilt by 2013.

Wates and Thomas Vale are looking for up to 14 local apprentices to support work on BSF contracts in the Potteries, which will give youngsters the chance to learn a trade in areas such as bricklaying, carpentry and plumbing.

The two companies are working together as a consortium to part-deliver the BSF programme.

Together, they will build or refurbish nine of the city’s 18 schools, including St Thomas More Catholic College; Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy; Trentham High School; the Discovery Academy and Birches Head High School.

Real Apprenticeships Ltd has been set up as part of the Government-backed Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA) programme.

It will find the apprentices, match them with employers, and provide pre-apprenticeship training and interviews.

It will also be the employer, with companies paying wages for their recruits back to the college.

Andy Greenhough, director of employer engagement at the college, said: “Working this way we can take away the burden in areas such as HR, health and safety and selection of potential apprentices.

“We are working with the construction sector in the first instance, and in particular with the Building Schools for the Future partners in the city.”

Mr Greenhough, pictured below, said he believed the new company can play its part in furthering regeneration in Stoke-on-Trent.

The college has already run a pilot ATA scheme with Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, which is providing entry level employment opportunities for fire-fighters and support staff.

The service’s training manager, Tim Wareham said: “One of our apprentices said he felt like he had won a golden ticket to a long-term career, and the enthusiasm generated by the apprenticeship programme is raising morale across the service.”

Is your firm recruiting apprentices? Email us at businessdesk

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

Chubb opens national Centre of Excellence for apprentices – News – Security industry news and information

http://www.info4security.com/story.asp?sectioncode=9&storycode=4128797&c=1

Chubb opens national Centre of Excellence for apprentices

05 Mar 12

Chubb Fire & Security UK has launched a national Centre of Excellence for training apprentices such that the company can continue to develop the knowledge and skills of its workforce.

By Brian Sims

Partnering with Blackburn-based training provider Training 2000, Chubb – which, of course, is part of UTC Climate, Controls and Security, a unit of United Technologies Corporation – now offers a flexible apprenticeship scheme that’s scalable depending on the requirements of the business.

From its training facility in Blackburn, Training 2000 is currently delivering apprenticeships for 29 Chubb employees from across the UK in Level 2 Electrical Engineering and Level 3 Fire and Security, with plans to include apprenticeships in mechanical fire protection (sprinklers) at some point in the future.

Dave Millett, the head of learning and development for Chubb Fire & Security, explained how Training 2000 is helping to deliver its staff training requirements.

“Our apprentices are key to the long-term future of the business,” asserted Millett, “and we’re committed to helping those new entrants to the fire and security industry develop the right skills.”

He continued: “Working with Training 2000 allows us to scale the training appropriately in order to meet the current and future requirements of the business. We considered many training providers across England before choosing Training 2000 as our apprenticeship training partner, and have been impressed by the company’s experience and facilities.”

Steve Gray, the CEO of Training 2000, added: “It’s fantastic for us to be working closely with such a well-respected company as Chubb, and we’re very much looking forward to developing our offering in this sector to accommodate even more apprentices in the near future.”

Training 2000 is a certified Training Quality Standard (TQS) provider boasting “excellence in automotive, engineering and health”.

In 2011, Training 2000 was awarded Beacon status and also listed as one of the best places to work in the public/third sector in The Sunday Times’ 100 Best Places to Work.

Training 2000’s apprenticeships are renowned for their relevance to industry requirements, and the compamy’s completion rates exceed the national average.

“Apprenticeships face ‘identity crisis’”

The Forum of Private Business has warned a group of MPs that apprenticeships are facing an ‘identity crisis’, with business owners in certain sectors concerned that shorter schemes do not provide the same value as longer courses.

The Forum’s senior policy adviser Alex Jackman gave evidence to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills’ Select Committee’s inquiry into apprenticeships in the House of Commons on 1 March.

Jackman told MPs that shorter apprenticeships have faced criticism from UK business owners, particularly those in traditional industries such as manufacturing and engineering who argue they do not provide the same value as the longer schemes they run – despite evidence of their popularity among more service-orientated sectors such as retail.

“At a general level we have spent decades devaluing GCSEs, A Levels and degrees by making them easier to pass,” stated Jackman. “It’s just not acceptable to devalue apprenticeships in the same way.”

Jackman continued: “Apprenticeships are facing an identity crisis over how entrepreneurs view shorter courses. Business owners in more traditional industries often doubt their value relative to the longer schemes they run, and even question whether they should be branded as apprenticeships at all, but others – in retail, for example – see many benefits.”

As far as Jackman’s concerned, it is of course important that shorter apprenticeships are more than simply glorified training schemes, hitting businesses in the pocket for little in return. “We should guard against diluting courses so they fall below industry standards,” he urged, “but, providing these schemes are accredited, shown to address real skills needs and are well regarded, even as ‘entry level’ apprenticeships, then they should rightly be valued, protected and promoted.”

That said, he continued: “We do need more awareness of the differences between intense, four-year apprenticeships and shorter schemes, greater clarity about their applicability to businesses in different industries and more centralised information about where to source information, funding and courses.”

Central Government “could be more effective”

In its submission to the official inquiry, the Forum argued that central Government could be more effective in overcoming the lack of clarity over information about apprenticeships as a result of the numerous routes through which to seek advice.

The not-for-profit employer body welcomed recent improvements to the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), particularly its commitment to advertise a firm’s apprenticeship position within one month, place an apprentice within thee months and remove any Health and Safety requirements that go beyond national standards.

The Forum reported generally positive feedback on the NAS’ activities, including its national contract management, but noted some continuing problems associated with sub-contracting training and courses and called for more awareness of the breadth of professions running apprenticeship schemes – including services such accountancy as well as traditional sectors like manufacturing.

With resources scarce for small firms just now there’s a need for robust data and feedback on the effectiveness of courses to ensure quality control. Closer interaction between training providers and local businesses would be beneficial.

Further, the Forum believes that reinstating independent careers advice in schools and colleges would help develop a greater understanding of the value of apprenticeships within the education system.

In the interests of flexibility and meeting the specific needs of small businesses, the Forum has called for more incentives to encourage firms to take on apprentices, for example via tax breaks and building on the direct, employer-led funding initiative currently being piloted.

Forum research: valued apprenticeships?

Forum research suggests 46% of small businesses use day release and college training apprenticeships, 31% traditional ‘on-the-job’ training schemes and 26% work trials taking on long-term unemployed people on 30-day trials.

Barriers to taking on apprenticeships include red tape – with 22% of respondents citing Health and Safety regulations. Many business owners believe risk assessments lack ‘common sense’.

Employment law is also a major issue. In all, 78% of Forum members said they would be encouraged to take on more young people if was easier to let recent recruits go should they not work out, with 54% suggesting reducing red tape when recruiting and 74% lowering employment costs more generally.

In order to make training and skills more employer-focused, 25% of small businesses called for apprenticeships to be better tailored to their needs.

Further, 23% have called for tax cuts and 31% training vouchers.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

The Work Foundation | Blogs | Graduate employability and the Mickey Mouse debate around degrees

http://www.theworkfoundation.com/blog/690/Graduate-employability-and-the-Mickey-Mouse-debate-around-degrees

Graduate employability and the Mickey Mouse debate around degrees

Last week it emerged that the unemployment rate was 25% for the 21-year-olds leaving university last year, compared to 20% of 18-year-old school leavers. There is a growing feeling amongst the public that widening participation in higher education has led to a proliferation of ‘mickey mouse’ degrees and a corresponding drop in the quality of graduates. In 2010 a YouGov opinion poll found that 52 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement “too many students are going to university now and it’s devaluing degrees”.

Worries over the link between widening participation and a perceived decline in graduate quality are still making headlines, most recently during the debate over the appointment of Les Ebdon as head of the Office for Fair Access. Commentators were quick to deride the nature and quality of courses available at the University of Bedfordshire, where Ebdon is Vice-Chancellor, and to brand his approach to access as a ‘model of mediocrity’. So should we be losing faith in the ability of universities to provide useful qualifications to everyone who wants them?

The Wilson Review, published earlier this week, takes a much more nuanced view of the links between student participation and the quality of degrees. The review makes a number of recommendations aimed at improving the way universities interact with businesses, with the employability of their graduates being a key component. Three areas of recommendation are demonstrative of the complexity of the issue.

Interestingly, the review suggests that demand for courses could improve courses if better information is made available to potential students. As part of a new all-ages career service to be rolled out later in the year the government plans to release ‘Key Information Sets’ to applicants. Information on the practicalities of student life at a given institution, such as the cost of accommodation, is mixed with data compiled by Higher Education Funding Council for England on the proportion of leavers who are in graduate jobs within six months. The review has some concerns about the quality of this data, suggesting that there are problems both with HEFCE’s definition of graduate employment and the importance of this as an indicator of outcomes. But providing more information on employability outcomes to graduates can only be a good thing. Accurate and relevant data should provide an incentive for universities to act to boost employability in order to attract the best applicants.

How might universities achieve this? One solution is the wider provision of university-supported work experience. The review recommends paid internships be offered to all students and proposes measures for increasing the number of sandwich courses. Another approach is to incorporate the teaching of relevant workplace skills into the curriculum. This need not be separate from the core degree course, examples being presentation or case-study based assessments. Finally, the report recommends offering greater support to bodies that promote entrepreneurship such as the National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs.

Employers themselves are urged to improve the filtering mechanisms by which they match applicants with positions. The concern here is that to some extent companies are not learning from past mistakes when it comes to the criteria they use to recruit, leading them to lament the quality of graduates even while dismissing suitably qualified candidates out of hand. Common filters include stipulating a 2:1 grade or a given number of UCAS points. While such measures certainly reduce the cost burden of sifting through applications extra-curricular activities which indicate strong employability skills are discounted, and in the case of UCAS points in particular there is a risk of disproportionately eliminating able applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The above recommendations could form the three pillars of a virtuous cycle in improving graduate employability. Where a course is particularly effective in conveying vital skills, an employer will recruit its graduates. If school-leavers are better informed of such outcomes this will increase demand for the most employer-friendly courses, hence pushing universities to match their offerings to employer needs. Such a mechanism could prove an effective test of newer degree courses as well as some traditional ones, and ultimately lead to a better fit between the skills of our graduates and needs of our businesses.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

Pocket Watch – Update on Quality in Apprenticeships | Pearson Centre for Policy and Lea rning

http://pearsoncpl.com/2012/pocket-watch-%E2%80%93-update-on-quality-in-apprenticeships/

Pocket Watch – Update on Quality in Apprenticeships

Introduction

This week John Hayes provided a further update on steps being taken to ensure quality in apprenticeship programmes. The government is clearly taking the issue seriously; at least one case of ‘short duration’ has been referred to the Special Investigation Unit and the Minister is setting up his own special panel so that any future cases can be reported directly to him

Context

It’s just over two months since the Minister announced his Quality Action Plan for Apprenticeships. At the time, he was responding to concerns about the nature, duration and legitimacy of some apprenticeship programmes arising in some cases out of a rapid growth in apprenticeship numbers. The Action Plan set out certain ground rules including an expectation that programmes for 16-18 year olds should extend for at least 12 months, that English and maths provision would be made available and that further quality reviews would follow. Much of this is under way, the SFA for instance announced a couple of weeks ago that it expected all providers to commit to a minimum programme duration of at least 12 months for 16-18 year olds as soon as possible and certainly by 1 August this year. In addition, a new certification process is now in place, the NAS is looking at the relationship between funding and actual delivery and the Select Committee Inquiry is under way. But concerns still linger and indeed a recent report on sub-contracting and alleged malpractice in some welfare to work contracts have only served to heighten the pressure

So what did the Ministerial Statement cover?

  1. Short duration programmes, those that run for a few months or in some reported cases, just a few weeks. This is not a straightforward issue, some sectors require more ‘training’ time some less, some apprentices come with more prior knowledge, some less but there’s clearly been concern about programmes of just a few weeks. Two things are now happening in response. First, a major review of all short duration programmes is being undertaken by the NAS and SFA and is due to complete by April. 87 cases have been examined with cases involving 10 primary and 3 sub-contractors still to be resolved. Second, the NAS is reviewing how far a minimum duration should extend to adult aprenticeships
  2. Subcontracting arrangements. Not a new issue but always a tricky one as the current Work Programme is finding out. The issue is how to ensure that as elements of provision are parcelled out, the same diligence and quality assurance is maintained. In trying to tighten up the delivery chain model, the Minister has gone for clearer guidelines, stricter minimum levels of performance and greater transparency with all sub contracted provision over £100k being published by the SFA from this month and breeches publicly exposed. In addition a new contractual clause, following not just the regulations but the intent, will be added
  3. Further steps. In a sense a lot hangs on the series of reviews that are now under way. However, it’s worth noting that the NAS will be publishing a revised, and no doubt stricter, Quality Delivery Statement, further guidance on the SASE will follow and of course Ofqual will be undertaking its review of the adult quals market

Steve Besley
Head of Policy (UK and International)

Pearson Centre for Policy and Learning

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Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

BBC News – Reading and Leeds festival apprenticeship scheme launched

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-17080608

Reading and Leeds festival apprenticeship scheme launched

18 February 2012 Last updated at 10:11

Reading Festival 2011 main stageThe apprenticeships offer a chance to work for Reading and Leeds festivals

Young job seekers have been invited to apply for England’s first music festival apprentice scheme.

Reading and Leeds festival boss Melvin Benn has set up two paid 12-month posts to work for both live music events.

Mr Benn, who has also set up 10 three-week internships, said he was reacting to unemployment figures – the UK jobless total is at a 17-year high.

He said: “As somebody who runs a company whose primary target is young people, I wanted to respond to it.”

Mr Benn, who runs the live events company Festival Republic, will offer apprentices and interns a chance “to see how things work behind the scenes”.

Applicants must be between 18 and 25 years old.

‘Not free labour’

Placements will include work in production, artist liaison, marketing, social media and ticketing as well as on site roles.

“Work is clearly tougher for young people at the moment compared to 10 years ago and even five years ago,” said Mr Benn.

He dismissed the idea the internships were “free labour” and said the placements were additional posts to his workforce, not filling vacancies.

Reading East MP Rob Wilson said he “congratulated” Mr Benn on the placements.

He added: “With so many young people facing a challenging time getting a job, it’s important that companies are prepared to give them an opportunity to get their foot on the first rung of the ladder.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK unemployment rate was 8.4% in the three months to December.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920