By Max Clarke

As youth unemployment in Britain continues to rise, fuelling fears of a 'lost generation', onus has fallen on national employers to initiate apprenticeship opportunities within their personnel.

In the UK the unemployment rate is 7.9%, but for 16 to 24-year-olds it is an alarming 20.3%, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Last month the ONS also reported that one in five 16 to 24-year-olds are now out of work, after a rise of 32,000 to 951,000 without jobs. This is the highest figure since records began in 1992.

Both the government and many organisations believe a key part of the route out of the economy downturn is to skill up the nation, especially through vocation-based training such as apprenticeships.

Businesses could consider the fact that despite costs to train new apprentices, their bottom lines could be the ultimate benefactor since according to the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) over 80% of people are more likely to use a business if it uses apprenticeships.

The NAS is also sponsoring Apprenticeships' Week which kicks off nationally Monday 7 February through Friday 11 February. The week-long event will host information sessions and conferences throughout the UK for businesses and prospective apprentices.

The Financial Services industry needs new talent with new FSA RDR requirements coming in at the end of 2012, some surveys have suggested that as many as 20% of IFAs may leave the profession.

The Financial Skills Services Council (FSSC) believes it is vital that young people need assistance into work through apprenticeships, and young talent is brought in to make the sector more competitive, and preserve the UK's position as one of the financial centres of the world.

Liz Field, CEO of the Financial Services Skills Council, said; "The Government needs to empower education and training providers to create skills programmes which align closely with the needs of business. Vocation-based training such as higher-level apprenticeships, can raise the prospects of young people considerably, and ultimately help the UK back on the road to recovery. Business needs to communicate its requirements more clearly than it has done for policy makers and thee education sector to meet its needs more fully."

Field continued, "It is essential that quality vocational qualifications, such as apprenticeships, be made available for new entrants and, we believe, to graduates in the job market. Employer- hosted programmes could boost the skills of an entire youth generation whose current precarious outlook questions its ability to lead the country forward. The competitiveness of the British economy is dependent upon harnessing the talents of a rich and diverse talent pool across the UK. The onus is on businesses and education training providers to be more creative and flexible with jobseekers."

The goal of next week's event is to highlight the talents and skills of apprentices and celebrate the value of apprenticeships. Workshops for business will encourage and teach how to create valuable apprenticeship opportunities and start the dialogue between employers and the youth who are hungry for work and experience.