Nescot student Amadou Bah (pictured left of Gordon Brown), who last year told government that councils, schools and the NHS should be offering apprenticeships to recession-hit youngsters, saw his efforts come to life at the Backing Young Britain exhibition in Birmingham earlier this month.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown used the Expo, on September 2nd at Birmingham City Football Club, to announce the creation of 85,000 new jobs and training opportunities for unemployed youngsters. Half of these will be in the public sector, with the rest offered by some of Britain’s biggest companies.
Amadou, a member of the National Learner Panel, which advises government on the interests of youngsters in education and training, was invited to see for himself the differences his recommendations have made.
‘I asked companies like Nissan, Virgin and Microsoft about the opportunities they were offering to education leavers. They all said the extra government help had seen them increase apprentice numbers. I then got to talk to Gordon Brown one-to-one for about ten minutes before the formal question and answer session,’ Amadou said.
‘Mr Brown remembered reading the report of our meeting with further education minister Sion Simon, where we pushed for public sector apprenticeships. We talked about the effects of the downturn on this generation of young people and he said he was keen to give more power to bodies like the National Learner Panel as we bring front-line experience to central government.
‘He then asked Yvette Cooper (Labour MP) to give me some facts and figures on the apprenticeship situation as he had to go and talk to the press about the Lockerbie situation.’
After talking with Amadou, Brown went on to tell the packed press conference that one of his administration’s proudest achievements had been the success of the apprentice scheme expansion in companies and its extension to local councils.
Despite evidence of his influence at the highest levels, business student Amadou was most inspired by talking to apprentices now working in local councils and the NHS as a result of his interventions.
‘It was amazing to hear from the people themselves and the opportunities they had taken up. I’m over the moon that it’s had such an impact,’ he said
The Government’s September Pledge, to keep under 24s off handouts and in training or education, comes as youth unemployment reached its highest since the recession of the 1980s, with nearly 20 per cent of 16-to-24 year-olds not in work or training.
The crisis has sparked fears of a lost generation of youngsters with little chance of employment and a spiralling benefits culture.