The figures are encouraging but more work is needed to encourage apprenticeships in the UK

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Written by Jeremy Scorer on 12 March 2014

Another National Apprenticeship Week has been and gone. It was a great event with a number of high-profile companies participating, with the Minister for Skills and Enterprise, Matthew Hancock MP, announcing that 20,432 new positions will be created across UK business and industry. Additionally, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson pledging to create 7,000 hospitality and catering apprenticeship positions in London by 2016.

Further to this, I was very encouraged to read in Big Hospitality that recently published figures indicated that retail and hospitality, the sector in which I have spent my whole working life, has seen an encouraging increase in firms planning to take on more apprentices, with a quarter intending to do so over the next 12 months. Food for thought (if you will excuse the pun) for other UK industries where excellence in vocational skills are a must.

The week was not all good news, the ‘Up to the Job’ report, published by think tank Demos, found that only 6.6 per cent young people (aged 16- to 24) are currently in apprenticeships – a worryingly low number in my opinion. The report went on to elaborate that less than 10 per cent of employers nationwide offered apprenticeship schemes and those that do are heavily oversubscribed. 54 per cent of young people interviewed for the study confirmed that they were willing to undertake an apprenticeship if it was offered. To me, it is clear that something must be done to address this shortage.

In one of my previous posts for this blog I wrote about how employers and providers should do more to encourage ‘parallel pathways’, working together to ensure that any apprenticeship scheme mirrored a respective company’s business strategy. Employers need more and clearer information on the benefits, I can think of a few in the first instance:

  • A bespoke high quality apprenticeship programme tailored to suit both the employee and your business
  • Getting ahead of the competition by nurturing enthusiastic young people with real talent to become valued members of the organisation.
  • Shaping the skills and experience of young people from your local community, helping your business to develop a loyal and talented workforce.
  • Working with apprentices will give established staff members the chance to develop their skills in mentoring and coaching young people.

With changes to the current legislation for apprenticeship funding this is the right time for the Government to promote the benefits of working in partnership to create a strong scheme which will have longevity and provide real value to both the business and the apprentice. That is why I want to use my blog this month to urge employers to see the value of apprenticeships to their company and consider introducing a scheme across their company. It is a win-win situation.

About the author
Jeremy Scorer is a managing partner at Charnwood Training. He can be contacted via jeremy.scorer@charnwood.co.uk

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