When do apprentices become too old to learn?
February 4, 2010 3 Comments
Apparently this week is Apprentice Week. It’s an initiative being run by the National Apprenticeship Service to highlight the value of Apprenticeships.
A visit to their website http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/ makes interesting reading in that today, apparently, the words “young” and “apprentice” appear to have become synonymous. Yet the meaning of “apprentice” per se is only that of a learner of a craft who is bound to serve his teacher/employer for a period of time in return for their instruction. Age doesn’t come in to it.
As you will see from our last posting, we believe that age equality means equal opportunity for all regardless of age. Companies such as Centrica, B & Q and Sainsbury’s have extended the age range of their apprenticeship schemes to include older applicants, with the result that apprentices are now chosen from all ages – even those well into their fifties – resulting in measurable benefits for all concerned.
Businesses desperately need incentives to help them introduce and implement more age friendly policies. Extending the new apprenticeship scheme (the Apprentice Grant for Employers – AGE ) which offers employers a £2,500 grant for each 16 or 17-year-old apprentice taken on would be a splendid way forward particularly in those areas and industries where there are jobs and/or skills shortages. At the very least, reminding everyone involved to remove the preface “young” from “people” when talking about apprentices and apprenticeships would be a positive start.
NB: Interestingly a 2009 report on Diversity in Apprenticeships which is listed on the National Apprenticeships Service site reviews gender, ethnicity and disability – but makes no mention of age.