The pre-apprenticeship route: Ending the ‘no experience, no job’ cycle

For some young people, an apprenticeship is still out of reach. Vasi Nadarajah explains how NEETs can break the cycle.

Vocational routes into employment are under renewed focus from government and industry alike as a way of addressing UK productivity, skills shortages and global competitiveness.

In particular, apprenticeships are proven to create a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce and address the skills gap between what employers need and what people currently have. Despite this, many young people in the UK are not yet ready to venture into apprenticeships.

Recent official statistics show that there are 826,000 people aged 16-24 that are not in education, employment or training (so-called “NEETs”). This is down 31,000 on the previous quarter but still too high.

Trapped in the cycle of ‘no experience, no job; no job, no experience’, some young people are far removed from the labour market and find it ever more difficult to move towards employability.  

Many employers use placements as a pre-apprenticeship option, enabling young people to become ‘work-ready’ before they begin an apprenticeship. This enables employers to enjoy the benefits of motivated young people who are talented and loyal, but also have direct industry-relevant experience.

Trapped in the cycle of ‘no experience, no job; no job, no experience’, some young people are far removed from the labour market and find it ever more difficult to move towards employability.  

Anastacia’s experience

Anastacia Jamfrey started a four-week scheme at BAE Systems in November 2014. She had left school in Newcastle upon Tyne with only a few GCSEs and no real relevant qualifications.

During the work placement she was made to feel part of the team by being given meaningful tasks that contributed to the team’s output and performance. This, in turn, gave her confidence in her abilities and a sense of purpose. 

In February 2015, she joined BAE Systems in a contractor role as a Quality Engineer in the department where she had completed her work experience. She had received information about apprenticeships at BAE Systems during her placement and, as a result, decided that an apprenticeship was her next career move as she would be able to earn while learning.

She applied for the Business Management apprenticeship in 2015 and successfully gained a place on the scheme that started in September 2015.

Anastacia is now on her way to completing her apprenticeship, which will come to an end in June 2017 when she will be fully qualified with a Level 3 BTEC and two Level 3 Diplomas. Anastacia hopes to complete an engineering degree and progress through the company to become a Programme Director within the BAE Systems business in the future.

Shajida’s experience

Similarly, Shajida Akhtar completed Accenture’s Go Tech programme in 2015 and is now in her final year of the Accenture apprenticeship programme, balancing work with study for an IT degree. She is one of 31 apprentices currently at Accenture who have come through the Movement to Work route.

As part of Accenture’s Skills to Succeed programme, they provide in-house technology training and work experience to young people that are NEET. The four-week course provides motivating speakers and interesting content to inspire the young people to have a career in technology.

At the same time the high quality training and work experience helps their applications for Accenture’s apprenticeships. 

Get involved

NEETs can often be unprepared to take on apprenticeships and feel isolated from the labour market. Work placements can help to fill this gap, equipping them with the knowledge, skills and confidence necessary to progress to an apprenticeship. Over 54% of young people completing placements have gone on to employment, further education or training.

Placements provide a great opportunity for young people to experience the workplace and define their career paths before undertaking an apprenticeship. Support from delivery partners including the JobCentre Plus, the Prince’s Trust and Talent Match facilitates this journey, providing young people with the support they need to be successful.

With this in mind, let’s support the tenth anniversary of National Apprenticeship Week and celebrate the importance of work experience and apprenticeships across all industries and levels, from traineeships to degree apprenticeships. 

We can provide work placements to more young people. We can provide an opportunity for businesses to give back to society as well as enhancing diversity in the workplace and providing a sustainable talent pipeline. 


About the author

Vasi Nadarajah is programme director of Movement to Work


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