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Electrical trade is being short-circuited by schools, says trainer
7:00am Thursday 12th September 2013 in News
EMPLOYERS are failing to recruit apprentices in a key trade due a lack of applicants, an expert has warned.
Mark Syrett, regional manager for training provider JTL, says that while Oxfordshire bosses have responded to appeals to take on more electrical apprentices, the response has been disappointing.
He said: “We have had 12 vacancies running over the last three weeks but just three people have applied. That says the candidates are not there.”
Mr Syrett blames new Government legislation which says youngsters must study on after GCSE until the age of 17.
He said: “Schools are not giving advice about apprenticeships because they want to hang on to the pupils as they get paid for it. There are learners in sixth form who don’t want to be there.”
As a result, Mr Syrett says youngsters are missing out on the opportunity of an apprenticeship that offers £52,000 over four years as well as the opportunity to gain qualifications up to degree level.
“There should be more advice and guidance on applying for an apprenticeship. The economy is going to recover but the numbers of qualified people are reducing.
"If we don’t fill the gap we will have a colossal problem.”
Kidlington-based electrical contractor Darke & Taylor has taken on eight new apprentices this year but bosses admit recruitment was more of a struggle, despite having strong links with local schools.
Managing director Paul McNaughton said: “We have had more difficulty as schools seem to want to hang on to young students. Apprenticeships were seen as a practical alternative.
“Now we are competing with schools and further education colleges.”
The figures contrast with those for general apprenticeships in the county as a whole, where there were 4,590 applicants chasing 1,204 positions in the year to August, meaning there are still more than three applicants for every position available.
Darke & Taylor has 32 apprentices in a total workforce of almost 150 and has worked on a range of prestigious contracts including Oxford’s Bodleian Library and Kensington Palace.
Sixteen-year-old Conor McCarthy is in the third week of his four-year apprenticeship with the company. Conor, who lives in Oxford, heard about the company’s apprenticeship scheme through a family friend and was delighted when he was taken on straight from school.
He said: “I have always wanted to learn the trade. I got some advice while I was at school but not a great deal.
“I was the only one of my friends to do it. They have gone on to sixth form, but this way I can earn while I am learning.”
For more information on apprenticeships, visit http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk
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