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Apprenticeships can fill gap left by highly-trained people from Europe post Brexit, say college bosses

By Chris Price

Apprenticeships are more important than ever to fill the gap left behind by EU workers after Brexit, say college leaders.

Increasingly, young people picking up their A-level and GCSE results are opting to become an apprentice rather than going to university.

The transition is much needed – in June accountancy Deloitte found 47% of highly-skilled workers from the EU were considering leaving the UK.

Carys Morgan, left, picks up her A-level results with May Oney at Valley Park secondary school in Maidstone

Carys Morgan, left, picks up her A-level results with May Oney at Valley Park secondary school in Maidstone

Kent County Council confirmed that, as of July, more than 1,400 young people registered for apprenticeships since March 1.

In that time 443 vacancies were added to its website and more than 300 applications received.

Kent Business is running the Kick Start Kent campaign to raise awareness of the options.

Richard Turner, HR director at Leigh University Technical College, Dartford, said: “With Brexit we are going to potentially lose a lot of highly-trained people from Europe.

“The apprenticeship strategy from government was there before the referendum but now it is a mechanism to address this shortage.

"With Brexit we are going to potentially lose a lot of highly-trained people from Europe..." - Richard Turner, Leigh University Technical College

“Certainly in technical areas we are seeing no shortage in roles available to our students, especially to do advanced apprenticeships for people finishing their A-levels.

“The perceived cost of university means students are looking more favourably on apprenticeships. Careers advisors are providing more advice on apprenticeships than ever.”

Employers say despite publicity around apprenticeships – Kent County Council is running its own Made In Kent campaign – there is still much to be desired when it comes to finding good quality candidates.

Claire Burroughs, managing director of Tunbridge Wells-based Ansacom, said: “We have a lot of low-skilled or unskilled workers and we tried to set up an apprenticeship scheme, which is apparently fantastic, but we couldn’t get anyone to apply and the ones that did didn’t want to do any work.

“What I don’t understand is there are apparently millions of people applying for apprenticeships in the UK and Kent has targeted 150,000.”

Stuart Haddow, managing director of XperiSoft, a recruitment software developer in Rochester, said: “More needs to be done in the schooling world to get students looking at apprenticeships.

“Taking a philosophy degree doesn’t get you very far. The school world needs to point out where the work is. It is not in marketing or sports science.

“We need engineers and software developers. I don’t see careers advisors giving students that worldly wisdom.”

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