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Apprenticeships: A magic bullet to close the skills gap and end youth unemployment?


Updated: 26 Oct 2015

Are apprenticeships rather than university degrees the magic bullet that will close Hong Kong’s skills gap, end youth unemployment and produce professionals who are equipped with the skills employers need in our world of work? According to recruiting experts Hays, it’s a strategy worth serious attention.

“Around the world, apprenticeships are increasingly being seen as a solution to the problems of youth unemployment and skills shortages,” says Christine Wright, Managing Director of Hays in Asia.

“Some people have deemed the skills shortage the result of an education system that has failed to prepare young people for working life, while others describe it as a symptom of employer efforts to shift the burden of training employees onto academia rather than investing in it themselves. Whatever the catalyst, the consensus is that apprenticeships could hold the key to bridging the gap.”

According to Christine these industry-specific programs, which traditionally combine classroom learning with on-the-job training and provide career entry points for many of those who choose not to pursue university education, are recognised around the world as a solution to the skills crisis.

“Here in Hong Kong, the construction & property industry is one example where employers have successfully used apprenticeships to bring in entry-level talent and train them in the skills they need,” she said

“While technological advances have removed many of the career opportunities for which apprentices would qualify – just think of the agriculture and manufacturing jobs now performed by robots and machines not people – these same threats can also be seen as an opportunity to train a more highly-skilled apprentice who learns more sophisticated expertise.

“This could usher in a new form of apprenticeship, one where companies train entry-level employees – with or without a degree – in the skills they need to hit the ground running in their chosen profession and add value to the organisation. Such organisations will future-proof their skills pipeline thanks to a structured training and development program.”

Regardless, Christine says that the employers and jobseekers of today should recognise the benefits of an apprenticeship. “For employers, they close the skills deficit and create sustainable skills pipelines. For jobseekers they provide a solid grounding in your chosen profession and equip you with the skills employers need so that you can not only enter but succeed in the increasingly technologically sophisticated world of work,” she said.

This issue is explored further in the latest Hays Journal, the recruiter’s bi-annual magazine on the world of HR and recruitment. To access the Hays Journal please visit

Hays is located in Hong Kong at Unit 5803-7, The Centre, 99 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong. Phone +852 2521 8884or email

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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For further information please contact Kerryn Celine, Senior Marketing Executive - South East Asia at Hays, on +61 2 8226 9844 or


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