'Not a route to free labour' - Prince Andrew gives backing to journalism apprenticeships

The Duke of York has given his backing to journalism apprenticeship schemes, describing them as "not the route to cheap labour" but "about gaining a skill".

Prince Andrew, who is a patron of the London Evening Standard’s Ladder for London Campaign, is supporting the push for more apprenticeship opportunities.

Speaking at the Society of Editors regionals seminar in the West Midlands yesterday, he said: "Young people should have the opportunity to choose the route that is best for them.

"Many young people today feel that they are demotivated and they are not able to aspire to recognise that they are capable of achieving something more.

"The apprenticeship route is not the route to cheap labour it is about gaining a skill."

Some of the UK's biggest employers of journalists last month signed up to a new government apprenticeship scheme and will work together to develop a new national set of standards for journalism trainees.

The "trailblazers" scheme includes Archant, the BBC, BSkyB, the Independent, ITN, Johnston Press, the KM Group, London Evening Standard and Newsquest, under supervision from the National Council for the Training of Journalists which is working on assessments and how apprentices can gain senior status.

NCTJ chief executive Joanne Butcher told the conference: "All the journalism apprentices I have met come with a passion and tremendous enthusiasm for journalism,” she added. “The investment you make can bring huge rewards. Editors say this enthusiasm can be infectious in the newsroom and can have a positive impact on the team morale."

She added: "The apprenticeship scheme provides an alternative route into journalism for those who want to benefit from learning while they work.

"Developed by employers in the industry in conjunction with the NCTJ, this new qualification promises to meet the same exacting standards we expect from all NCTJ trainees. We hope this initiative will be another way of improving diversity, making journalism accessible by supporting people who prefer to earn while they learn."

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