From education to employment

Why are #apprenticeship programmes so successful?

With over 23,000 apprenticeship opportunities listed on average every month, it comes as no surprise that apprenticeship participation has hit a record high in the last academic year, 2016/17.

There was a total of 491,300 apprenticeships that academic year, a sign-up increase of 14.5% on the previous year with 384,500 starts.

Many analysts of the figures might attribute the success of apprenticeship programmes to that fact that 89% of apprentices are satisfied with their apprenticeship and 97% of employers said the same.

It seems that the programmes have a good reputation across both employers and participants — so is the success expected to continue? Retailer of button badges, Badgemaster, explores.

Apprentice attitudes

The majority of apprentices have a relatively positive attitude toward their apprenticeship programme, with nearly all apprentices believing that they acquire and improve their skills as a direct result of the apprenticeship programme they are enrolled on. Furthermore, it offers both young and old to earn a wage whilst learning on the job. According to the Education & Skills Funding Agency, 97% of apprentices said their ability to do their job had improved, whilst a further 92% said their career prospects had improved with more than 90% of apprentices currently going into work or further training following their programme.

In the last academic year, figures showed that 912,200 people were actively participating in an apprenticeship, 12,800 more than in the year before. Figures from the previous academic year revealed that 271,700 people successfully completed an apprenticeship in 2015/16, up 10,800 on the previous year — suggesting that achievement and completion figures could continue to rise as participation rate increase, too.

Apprentice demographics

Apprenticeship programmes are attractive educational programmes to all ages, despite many believing that they are predominantly for school leavers; of the 491,300 apprentice starts in 2016/17, 24.6% of them were under 19 years old. However, in the same academic year, people aged 25 and over dominated apprenticeships with 46% of starts accounted by the 25 and over population. A figure that isn’t surprising when statistics show that the number of participants in higher or degree apprenticeships have increased significantly, from 740 to 3,880 — and in September 2017, there were 39,000 commitments to apprentices ages 25 and over. The number of starts for people ages 19 to 24 years old, although still higher than under 19s, was the lowest since 2009/10 at just 29%.

However, so far in the 2017/18 academic year, although apprenticeship starts have appeared to drop, the ratio of demographics paints a different picture to 2016/17. So far, under 19s have dominated apprenticeship programmes, with 41% of all apprenticeship starts in the first quarter of 2017/18 started by under 19s. This is a normal trend to be noted, as the higher percentage accounts for young school leavers moving onto further education from school. Starts by those over the age of 15 dropped to just 29%.

Employer attitudes

Many employees across the UK from all sectors often experience a shortage of qualified workers, or employees who require further training. Apprenticeship programmes give companies an opportunity to train staff whilst on the job, but usually at a fraction of cost of a fully qualified, full-time employee. And it is not just money-saving benefits that keep employers happy.

With 87% of employers satisfied with the apprenticeship programme that they offer, 76% of them believe the programme has helped improve productivity and a further 75% think it has helped to improve the quality of their product or service. Furthermore, because of the success of the programmes, more than 76% of employers offer their apprentices a full-time job following the programme’s completion — only 24% said they didn’t offer further full-time work.

The benefits are apparent on both sides, with 87% employers also believing their apprenticeships give young adults an advantage when applying for jobs over those who haven’t participated, and 60% saying they are willing to offer a salary between £14,000 and £18,000 per annum to former apprentices.

Apprenticeship sector trends

If apprenticeship starts are anything to go by, there are clear winners when it comes to the most popular, and successful sectors for apprenticeship programmes, with four subject areas accounting for 86% of all the apprenticeship starts in 2016/17. According to a briefing paper from the House of Commons Library, the Health, Public Services and Care, and the Business Administration and Law sectors hold the joint top spot for the most sign ups — with Business Administration and Law losing single occupancy of the top spot for the first time following 7,000 more starts in the Health, Public Services and Care sector from 2015/16. Both sectors experienced 138,000 starts in 2016/17. In second place, Retail and Commercial Enterprise had 75,000 starts and in fourth, Engineering and Manufacturing experienced 74,000 starts.

But, whilst those sectors remain the most popular for apprenticeship programmes, the choice doesn’t stop there — which could be another reason why programmes are popular amongst all ages. Essentially, there is something for everyone. From Construction, Planning and the Built Environment to ICT, Leisure Travel and Tourism, and Education and Training.

So, what do you think? Are those figures enough to convince you that apprenticeships deliver continued success for both the apprentice and employer? With so many higher education routes to choose from, it is often difficult for people to choose which road to take. Apprenticeships offer benefits for both parties, with learning on the job a preferred method amongst many industry professionals. Does your company welcome apprentices? If not, maybe it is time to consider the successful education programme.

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