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Apprentices are the answer

24 February 2012
Apprentices are the answer

If the industry embraced apprenticeships we could make a real difference to employment figures and the economy, says Travelodge CEO Guy Parsons

Not since the early 1980s has the prognosis for our young people been so bleak. Unemployment for 16 to 24 year olds stands at over a million, university fees are rising and the uncertainty in the global economy fills people with despair. Given these conditions, how are we going to be able to help young people enter the workforce and begin their careers in meaningful roles?

I believe there is a simple solution companies can introduce which will not only help combat youth unemployment but will also provide real benefits for their business - a management apprenticeship programme.

For decades, bosses have hired the best graduate talent via the annual milk rounds and graduate programmes. Why not explore the raw talent prior to going to university which you can train, develop and turn into a future leader. Research shows that there are clear benefits to apprenticeships across the whole economy - increased competitiveness, productivity and reduced labour turnover.

I know this solution can work because I have first-hand experience. In April 2011, I launched a management apprenticeship programme for school leavers. JuMP (Junior Management Programme) is a fast-track route into management and provides A-level students (18+) with a real alternative to going to university. On this programme, school leavers can continue their education, obtain work experience, receive a salary and become a Travelodge hotel manager by the age of 21.

I am so confident that our JuMP programme will provide a pipeline of new management talent that I have set a target that 50% of our new hotels will be managed by our Travelodge apprentices by 2015.

The Government has long been calling on employers to step into the gap left by our shrinking public sector. Figures from the National Audit Office show that every £1 spent on training apprentices is worth £18 to the UK economy. According to City & Guilds, creating a million more apprenticeships would raise an extra £4.37b in tax by 2020.

There has never been a better time for companies to invest in a management apprenticeship programme. Training people through an apprenticeship is the most competitive and efficient way to help a business grow stronger. So let's give today's young adults a career they can be proud off and breathe some life back into our fallen economy.

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