Local firms need to work with us
In some people's minds apprenticeships are a route into the world of work which have had their time and are no longer relevant. But nothing could be further from the truth. Stephen Farry, the Minister for Employment and Learning, is conducting a review of youth training and is examining the Danish model which is regarded as world-leading for vocational education and training.
He recognises that progression to university is not the best way forward for every young person and that vocational training can offer very worthwhile, and much needed, careers.
This newspaper is not just praising Mr Farry's vision, but actively working with him to give young people an opportunity to break into the world of work. With youth unemployment in Northern Ireland standing at 23% compared to a UK average of just under 20%, it is clear that young people here need a helping hand.
We want to local employers to create 50 apprenticeships in 50 days, following on from our initiative in 2012 when we got 108 pledges of apprenticeships from 26 companies in 100 days. The campaign got off to a high profile start yesterday when the Duke of York threw his prestigious weight behind it on a visit to this newspaper – the first ever by a member of the Royal Family.
Prince Andrew recognises the value of giving young people a good start in life through schemes like apprenticeships. It helps their self-esteem, gives them a sense of the discipline needed for the world of work and enables them to acquire skills which are needed by employers.
Too often employers say that those leaving university or further education colleges don't have the technical skills required for work, even if they have glowing academic qualifications.
Peer and parent pressure may have stopped some young people going down the route of apprenticeships in the past, but now their value has been recognised – even given a royal seal of approval. It is now up to our employers, large and small, to create the vacancies that young people desperately need. In return they will get workers ready to make a contribution to the company and to the wider economy.