Apprenticeships can bring countless opportunities for both young people who are looking to kick-start their career as they earn while they learn and progress within the electrical sector and also for the employers who seek to bring more diverse, skilled engineers into their businesses and drive the industry towards excellence.
Recently, the Government figures showed that 8 out of 10 managers see apprentices as an essential part of growing their business. The same research found that apprenticeships help employers to meet their business objectives through the combination of increased productivity, fewer skills gaps and a more diverse workforce.
The research released by the Government showed that 9 in 10 of every employer that takes on an apprentice report benefits to their business. Also, businesses report an average increase in productivity by up to £401 in construction and planning and £414 per week in engineering and manufacturing sectors.
Although we see more and more apprentices entering our sector through an apprenticeship route, not all of them are able to complete their apprenticeships. Many young people in our industry are faced with a significant number of issues that are standing in the way of pursuing a career in the electrical industry which over time can put their performance at risk and lead to mental health problems.
In our sector, 1 in 4 apprentices are currently providing carer’s role to elderly or sick parents, children and disable siblings, others are struggling with financial issues, but very few of them receive help, which puts significant pressure on apprentice’s progress and can very quickly spiral out of control.
The survey produced by YouGov/MQ revealed a high level of mental health problems in students, as more than a quarter (27%) have a mental health problem of one type or another. The Guardian also stated that 75% of young people with mental health problems in the UK are not receiving treatment and more than half of them feel embarrassed about their mental illness.
Other worrying figures produced by the Office of National Statistics showed that suicide is the biggest killer of young people aged 20-34 in the UK each year, which is higher than a decade ago. Last year alone around 200 construction workers took their own lives, of which 16% consisted of men between the ages of 18-35-year-old workers.
The Electrical Industries Charity recognises the importance of young people in the electrical sector and understands how crucial the support network can be for those who are starting out in our industry. An apprentice going through a rough patch at home that put their work at risk needs support to allow progression and achieve a lifetime of productive and satisfying work. This is why the Charity recently launched the Employee Assistance Programme of which the Apprentice Support Programme is part of. The Programme was designed to help apprentices to complete their studies and bring new ideas and impetus into our sector. The Apprentice Support Programme offers services including debt management, financial assistance, counselling, support for carers, scholarships, apprentice bursary scheme, engineering scholarship, legal support, complex case management support and career development and transition assistance.
Early intervention and a solid support network can have a huge impact on young people’s lives. Therefore, as an industry, we need to work together to ensure that young talent who are entering our sector through an apprenticeship route have that important support network which is needed to bring fresh ideas into our sector and drive our industry forward.