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We need to link young people with the opportunities on offer in the industry

Midlands businesswoman of the year Julie White believes linking apprentices who find themselves out of work with companies such as hers will help reduce unemployment and answer her recruitment problems.

I have invested heavily in apprenticeships over the years to the point where 45 per cent of my workforce has come through the scheme. I have even gone through the apprenticeship myself to find out exactly what my staff learn.

As a diamond drilling company, D-Drill operates in a very specialist industry so we have to invest in people and training.

But when I was looking to recruit additional staff last year, I found a flaw in the system.

Communication block stifles opportunity

Not all apprentices in the construction industry go on to get a full-time job after they have been through a scheme with a construction company. I think those people would be perfect for a company such as D-Drill.

“I wanted to contact those people and tell them there might be an opportunity to join D-Drill.”

These apprentices have shown they are willing to learn and that they want to be in construction, but have not managed to secure permanent work at the end of the apprenticeship.

I wanted to contact those people and tell them that even though it didn’t work out with their previous company, there might be an opportunity to join D-Drill.

It would be a great way to solve our need for new staff and also to help reduce the number of people who are unemployed – particularly young people.

However, when I asked for the names of those who were in that position, I was told I couldn’t access them because of data protection issues.

In essence, I can’t contact somebody who is in need of work to tell them there might be the chance of a full-time job with my company, where we will train them and give them an opportunity to grow with the business! It seemed ludicrous to me.

Political solution sought

I decided to speak to my MP Mark Pawsey, who has been brilliant. Through him, we wrote to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. They have come back to say they are considering an idea I proposed regarding a national database of apprentices, which I think would help no end.

“It would be a great way to solve our need for new staff and also to help reduce the number of people who are unemployed”

Skills minister Matthew Hancock replied to me and said that he appreciated the suggestion of a national database. 

“The details on how this would be managed and resourced, and its feasibility in terms of practicality would, of course, need careful deliberation,” he wrote. “It would also need consultation with employers and consent from apprentices.”

However, he has taken the opportunity to forward the suggestion to the National Apprenticeship Service for discussion as to the possibility of taking forward such a scheme.

We need to do something to help link these obviously keen young people with the potential employment opportunities on offer at firms such as mine.

Julie White is managing director of D-Drill

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