As of November 2015, the number of young people in the United Kingdom not in education, employment or training stood at 848,000. Commonly referred to as 'NEETs', this huge section of society aged 16-24 (the Scottish government limits its NEET classification to those aged 16-19) is a desperate social and economic problem.
BBC News in 2005 reported how NEETs are 20 times more likely to commit crime and female NEETS are 22 times more likely to be a teenage mother. Only 46% of NEETs in 2015 were listed as looking for work or further education, leaving the best part of half a million young people classed as 'economically inactive'.
A leading country like the UK, competing on the international stage against existing economic superpowers and developing economies, simply cannot afford to have so many people totally absent from working life. Dubbed the 'lost generation' of the recession, those leaving school or increasingly graduating from university have been finding precious few job opportunities available.
That is one of the key reasons why the government continues to plough money into apprenticeship schemes in an effort to get some of these people back into work. Indeed over 100,000 people have returned to education, employment or training since November 2014 - and huge numbers of those are in apprenticeships.
But it's certainly not just NEETs who might be suited by the excellent opportunities apprenticeships offer. They are a crucial option for those leaving compulsory education who don't wish to go to higher education or university, as well as those eager to make their first steps into the world of work.
Not everyone is suited to traditional education, and apprenticeships provide great prospects and a first step on the ladder, marrying the vocational with the academic. For businesses, there a number of real benefits from employing an apprentice.
This guide has been put together to give a clearer understanding of what an apprenticeship is and how they work. It also sets out the benefits for both the employer and apprentice, as well as tips on how to get involved, and links to further resources.
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