Call for more apprentices to help address biggest labour shortage in decades

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Young people are being urged to consider apprenticeships as many industries suffer the biggest labour shortage in decades.

A lack of awareness of job training schemes, partly due to a reduction in careers advice in schools caused by the pandemic, is one reason, say experts.

Apprentices have told ITV News West Country there has been an image problem with many people their age opting for university instead. It comes as new figures reveal there are now nearly a million job vacancies across the UK.

City of Bristol College says employers are contacting them with a total of around 300 vacancies for apprentices but are struggling to fill them.

DAF Trucks UK, which has a training base at the college's site in Parkway, just outside Bristol, has more than a quarter of 400 roles across the country unfilled.

"Normally, there would be numerous apprentice events going on and schools offering careers advice to students after their GCSEs, but this year there's had to be a refocus on just getting through the curriculum (because of disruption caused by the pandemic)", says Apprentice Programme Co-ordinator Alex Stroud.

DAF Truck UK's Apprentice Programme Co-ordinator Alex Stroud Credit: ITV

Simon Arnold, Director of Business & Commercial Partnerships at the City of Bristol College, says new government incentives to help fund apprentices for employers should lead to an improvement.

"It's a no-brainer to me," he adds. "You can work for an employer, learning what it's like to be employed, learning skills graduates don't have and all while being paid."

Immy Tempest Woods, aged 21, is on a three-year scheme to become a technician on HGVs, having chosen an apprenticeship over a place at university.

Immy Tempest-Woods chose an apprenticeship over a university place Credit: ITV

"I did apply to uni but decided I wanted to do something more hand-on," she said.

"I think there was a stigma around apprenticeships and I didn't know much about them at first, but I think they're the best thing for people who aren't too confident in the exam hall. I wanted the qualifications while earning, so chose an apprenticeship and glad I did."