Apprenticeships are the way forward according to Vince Cable

The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, made public a program that will spawn 110,000 apprenticeships, in spite of stats just out, showing 80% of firms admitting that there have been hindrances to bringing apprentices on board. Nearly 90% of them claim on-the-job training programs are critical to their short-term success.

National Apprenticeship Week is in full swing and Cable is due to explain the government program that increases the spending on vocational training by more than £200 million, bringing it to a total of £1.4 billion per year.

City & Guilds, a large provider of vocational training in the UK, reported that more than 50% of those companies that currently hire apprentices are staunch in their faith that the value to the company is far higher than if they brought in those fresh out of university.

While apprenticeships are advocated by both politicians and business leaders alike as a way to manage costs in the face of a shortage of skilled labour, there are still a mere 11 apprentice positions compared to 1,000 UK employees, according to the Centre for Economic Performance. The worst aspect about it is the number who quit the apprenticeships, chiefly due to inadequate wages. If the apprentices are going to stay and contribute more to the value of the company, they must receive better wages.

John Hayes, the Skills Minister, hinted at the desire to revitalize the apprenticeship system, by requesting sector skills councils to take on a parallel role to the old guilds of medieval times. They would create qualifications for their particular profession and grant a higher respect to anyone completing the upper levels of skills aptitude.

Catherine McKinnell, Labour MP, presented a bill that would force firms that win huge public contracts dedicated spots for apprentices.

City & Guilds has just begun a program, Million Extra, geared toward aiding a million get into apprentice positions prior to summer 2013.