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Apprenticeships Meeting Real Needs of London's Youth

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Every day brings different people through our doors, from youth, unemployed, college or school leavers to ex-young offenders, uni drop-outs and young parents from across London. Each has their own individual needs, goals and outlooks on life.

In 2008, when I created Persona HR, specialising in security, events and hospitality recruitment, there were no Apprenticeships in this industry. With a passion for regeneration in local communities I wanted to be able to offer young people real careers and a chance to earn real money while getting vital qualifications. To me Apprenticeships seemed the best option. We launched an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship in Spectator Safety in 2010 with 80 apprentices. Three years on we have taken on over 140 apprentices ourselves and 12 other employers are now on board nationally.

The other day a candidate registered with us who had completed their Intermediate Level Apprenticeship at another Security Company. I felt so proud knowing that we were integral in making that happen. There are now three levels of Apprenticeship across four subjects in this sector.

Apprenticeships are almost tailor made now with the flexibility for employers and learning providers to work together to ensure each individual is offered the best range of qualifications. This is the beauty of Apprenticeships and the reason I passionately work behind the scenes promoting them as much as I can. As well as the core elements of the Apprenticeship, such as the NVQ qualification, the onsite placement and functional skills, employers are offering extra qualifications like First Aid, Security Industry Authority (SIA) training and Fire Marshalling.

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As our business has developed so have our Apprenticeships. I can firmly say Apprenticeships have been integral to our growth, not just from being able to grow our own talent but also through the reputation we now have for the work we do with apprentices. This makes me very happy as an MD but also as an ordinary woman and mum. The work we do with young people has led to new business; new contacts and more and more candidates coming our way. As an Ambassador Employer, we have also helped young people secure Apprenticeships in Engineering, Social Care, IT and Catering sectors too.

In London, there is a high need for young people to earn money. I see hundreds of 17-19 year olds who are the main breadwinners or parents of their own families. The need to work and earn money is higher than the need to get qualified, although they fully realise that without qualifications their earning potential can be hugely capped. With an Apprenticeship they can still qualify for and receive travel, housing and childcare support if needed, which makes this route a hugely attractive career option. .

I cannot promote Apprenticeships enough. If you're a young person, think about what you want to do with your life. What would your dream job be - a plumber, chef, engineer, web designer, PA? All of these careers offer Apprenticeships. There are approximately 17,000 opportunities being advertised on Apprenticeship vacancies, the jobsite for Apprenticeships on the apprenticeships.org.uk website seven days a week, 365 days a year. And, there are Apprenticeships available in over 170 industries and 1500 job roles. Whatever your level, whether you've just left school, or just had exam results, maybe you've been to college or uni and it's just not for you, have a look online, or use the Av Search app for iPhone and Android new to see what opportunities are available. I really do believe Apprenticeships are the best way to earn real money while getting real qualifications and real experience.

If you're an employer, think about involving Apprenticeships in your business and see what help you can get from the National Apprenticeship Service. There is nothing more gratifying than growing your own talent; the rewards and results will speak for themselves over and over again.