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Why apprentices can be the right solution

Contagion was always a risk, but in this case it's welcome. Having started with the aim of getting 100 apprentices on board in 100 days, the Belfast Telegraph's campaign to reinvigorate one of the most important parts of our economy has got off to a flying start.

Companies who have maybe considered taking on an apprentice are being encouraged to step up to the plate after seeing the enthusiasm and affidavits of their peers or those who have been through the apprenticeship scheme.

There can be no doubt that targeting this area should be one of the priorities, not just on our list but on that of government.

A quick glance at the figures reveals we should be worried; granted not as worried as other parts of Europe but worried nonetheless.

At nearly 18% our youth unemployment rate is a scary figure and means that the bright young leaders and business people of tomorrow are treading water while they wait for the right opportunity.

The chance to join an apprenticeship scheme is exactly the kind of thing which can work wonders for those stuck in the dole queue, or indeed those who have an appetite in a particular area.

It might not be the most fashionable route to take, what with higher education at colleges and universities all the rage, but in many cases it can prove more worthwhile. From one who has been through tertiary education I can safely say that some of the best and most useful training I've experienced has been on-the-job rather than in the classroom.

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And for companies taking on apprentices the benefits are clear.

Being able to train new starts in a bespoke manner to your individual needs means a workforce which will be more efficient and better able to drive productivity.

And that's before you take into consideration the economic benefits and the many incentives from government for getting involved.

In these days when contagion generally means a time to batten down the hatches ahead of a spreading storm there is surely no better time to boost your business and at the same time lift the economy.