2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for apprentices, employers and training providers.
Some sectors, such as hospitality and travel & tourism, have been particularly badly affected by the economic downturn and may take several years to fully recover. Looking ahead to the future, the UK government is committed to supporting apprentices and on the other hand employers need a skilled workforce, so there are grounds for optimism despite the extremely challenging circumstances we currently find ourselves in.
Focus on sectors where apprenticeships are available
In the short term some companies in hard hit sectors may stop recruiting new staff. If you want to start an apprenticeship soon it’s best to focus on those sectors where new apprenticeships are available, such as IT & Digital, Accounting, Engineering and Social Care. However, if your main interest lies in one of the hard hit sectors a sensible back up plan could be to stay in education rather than risk unemployment. Further education colleges offer a wide range of work-related courses to choose from which could keep open the option of progressing to an apprenticeship in the future. Why not check out your local college’s website to help you form a plan B. It’s worth noting that during the last recession in 2008 we saw a rise in the number of young people staying in education as job opportunities declined.
Making an application
If you are serious about securing an apprenticeship you need to keep yourself motivated. Check the live apprenticeship vacancies on the government website on a regular basis and keep applying for any vacancies that interest you. Be aware that the application process has been affected by the pandemic; HR advisers and recruitment advisers are likely to be working from home until government restrictions are lifted. So expect staff to take longer than usual to process your applications.
A recruiter will want to interview you to assess if you have the basic skills for the role you have applied for. However, don’t expect to be invited to the company’s offices for an interview. During the current pandemic interviews are likely to take place by phone or video call rather than face to face in person - but the questions recruiters ask will be the same! You may also be asked to complete an online assessment to assess whether you have specific skills required for the role you have applied for.
I’m currently unemployed - what are my options?
If you are aged 16-24, claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long term unemployment you are eligible for the Kickstart Scheme announced by the Chancellor in August. The scheme provides a paid job with a local employer for six months.The government has made £2 billion of funding available to pay the wages of a young person in the scheme for the first 25 hours of work each week. Roles in different types of businesses are available across England, Wales and Scotland. A placement on the Kickstart Scheme might just open the door to an apprenticeship within the same company.