'Give the Class of 2020 a chance' - Sheffield training centre urges businesses to offer apprenticeships

Companies re-opening across Sheffield City Region are being urged not to leave the Class of 2020 on the shelf.

Sunday, 24th May 2020, 10:45 am
Updated Monday, 1st June 2020, 1:04 pm

A black hole of unemployment looms for thousands of the region’s school-leavers this summer.

Research from previous recessions shows young people exiting full-time education are hit harder than any other age group.

“The economic crisis caused by the pandemic will mean many of this year’s school-leavers do not get on the career ladder and this could scar their lives for years,” warned Sheffield charity The Source Skills Academy.

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Tricia Smith, CEO of The Source Skills Academy.

“We are fighting for the Class of 2020,” said CEO Tricia Smith, adding: “We must ensure they have a future. For many of them, that is via apprenticeships.”

The Sheffield City Region usually sees 14,000 new apprentices appointed a year.

But in line with other training providers, the academy is forecasting a decrease in apprenticeship availability by at least 25 per cent.

It is calling on reopening businesses not to lose sight of the crucial role apprenticeships play in workforces.

“We know they are facing huge dilemmas as they work out how to get back on their feet and worry they will have to cut their workforces. But we are urging them not to forsake young people,” said CEO Tricia Smith.

“Teenagers leaving lockdown need to be shown faith and hope.”

In return, she says, companies get an injection of young blood and fresh ideas, Government incentives of £1,000 and free training for the under 18s.

“Apprentices taking on junior tasks free up experienced staff as you work through the crisis and rebuild a workforce of the future,” she commented.

The academy normally has companies lining up to recruit in spring and summer. Pre lockdown a number were ready to start interviewing candidates.

“We are now trying to find out if they want us to pick up where they left off,” said Business Development Officer Kerry Cook.

During lockdown her team prepared 70 apprentice hopefuls, providing free, short online courses to boost their confidence and employability.

“This South Yorkshire talent pool is now ready and we know many more will come in the next few months,” said Kerry.

“We are going to have an army of young people waiting and hoping.”

The Source’s Communities and Employability team will step into the breech for as many as possible, up-skillling via additional training courses and keeping spirits positive.

Apprenticeships are also open to people of all ages and could give a new career to workers made redundant as a result of the pandemic.

Companies with under 50 employees who take on a 16-18 yr old apprentice receive a £1,000 Government grant and full funding for their qualification. All learning is based in the workplace and the minimum wage for a 16-18 year-old apprentice is £4.15 an hour.

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