Half of firms failing to help youngsters

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More than half of British businesses are failing to offer apprenticeships, graduate placements, internships or work experience.

The YouGov survey was carried out for Sheffield-based health insurance provider Westfield Health prior to Prime Minister David Cameron unveiling reforms to the apprenticeship system, designed to “put employers in the driving seat.”

The survey revealed construction, financial services and manufacturing companies were most likely to offer apprenticeships and placements.

Westfield Health executive director Paul Shires said: “The huge gap in the number of companies offering these opportunities raises some serious concerns, especially as Britain’s workforce continues to age.

“Research has shown that work is generally good for both physical and mental health and can be therapeutic, reversing the health effects of unemployment. Nurturing the next generation and providing more employment and training opportunities for tomorrow’s workers to flourish is essential, not just for their own wellbeing – but the country’s economic wellbeing, too.”

David Laughton, head of learning, teaching and assessment at Sheffield Hallam University’s Business School, described the results of the survey as disappointing.

“We know from research that workplace opportunities help to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes that employers are looking for when they recruit and, where workplace opportunities have been embedded in educational courses, that learners have higher chances of obtaining employment after completion,” said Mr Laughton.

“Companies that offer these kinds of opportunities therefore make an important contribution to the life chances of young people as well as to the economy.”