By Lea Pachta

– Call for more employers to get involved in work experience programmes for students

– Five new work-based Diplomas launch on 1st September –
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Five new work-based Diploma qualifications will be launched on the 1st September, and to mark their introduction a group of employer-led organisations – Diploma Employer Champions Network; Young Enterprise and the Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network – are calling on fellow employers to tackle rising levels of youth unemployment by offering more work experience to students.

A joint survey of their members revealed that 82% of employers say that demonstrating experience of the world of work increases a young person’s employability. Less than 30% said they would consider employing a young person based on academic qualifications alone. 66% of employers say that transferable skills such as team-working and communication are crucial if young people are to land a good job. 55% say that appearance and attitude are important if young people want to impress a potential employer.

The first five Diploma lines were launched in 2008, with the next five subjects — ‘Environmental & Land Based Studies’, ‘Manufacturing and Product Design’, ‘Hair & Beauty’, ‘Hospitality’ and ‘Business, Administration & Finance’ — being introduced from September 2009. 80% of local uthorities will be delivering at least five Diploma subjects by 2010.

The Diploma qualification combines classroom study with an opportunity for young people to apply what they have learned in the workplace. Diploma students are able to progress to further study, university or work. Students will be able to take Diplomas alongside existing qualifications like GCSEs or A-levels.

To demonstrate the way employers and young people can work together, the Diploma Employer Champions Network has teamed up with Young Enterprise to ‘pilot’ four Student Troubleshooter events in England on Tuesday 25th August.

Groups of Diploma students, aged between 15-16 years of age, are spending a day with a local business, where the employer will set them a challenge to improve an aspect of their organisation. The businesses taking part are a boutique hotel; a biomass power station; a radio station and an enterprise training company.

• Young Enterprise works with over 3,000 employers across the UK to deliver business programmes for schools.

• Diploma Employer Champions Network represents over 150 organisations across England, backing the work-based Diploma qualification including BT, British Gas, Hyatt, Microsoft, Rolls Royce, Tate & Lyle and Toni & Guy.

• Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network is made up of 40 senior executives from organisations including Tesco, BAE systems, CBI and Royal Dutch Shell.