"

"Every employer in the country should be involved in apprenticeships."

That's what Stephen Gardner, Director of Work-Based Learning for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), believes.

Gardner told FE News reporter Kate Watkins that apprenticeships are a valuable tool for apprentices and businesses alike as the benefits are reciprocal.

"Apprentices gain work-based training and businesses can train apprentices to fit their needs within the company," he said. "Businesses recruit staff that are specifically designed within the business."

A Growing Respect

Throughout the UK, businesses are taking advantage of apprenticeship schemes. From small construction companies to major city-based companies, apprentices are being inducted in increasing numbers. More than 250,000 apprentices were recorded by the LSC this year alone.

Gardner said one of the major advantages to apprenticeship schemes are the work-based skills apprentices learn. "Apprenticeships provide a learning style which is well received by young people," said Gardner. "Young people learn while working. They also have an opportunity to learn and earn a wage at the same time so they can come out of their programs without massive debts."

A Business in Partnership

Businesses can obtain funding from the government via the LSC to implement apprenticeship schemes. Specific sums are put aside by the Government to aid in work-based learning programs as apprenticeships are fundamental to the work-force.

Gardner encourages all young people to look at apprenticeship possibilities for their future careers. "Apprenticeships can give (young people) a route to a valuable career and the possibility of going on to higher education levels," he said. "Young people should make sure they at least consider the option of apprenticeships.

"If young people have a specific career in mind, apprenticeships may be the best way to get into that profession - so have a good look at things."

Recognising Achievements

Recently, the LSC honoured apprentices and apprenticeship programs that have demonstrated a high level of excellence at the second annual Apprenticeship Awards in London. Businesses and apprentices from all over the UK were recognised for the high quality of their work.

"The awards ceremony was a fabulous event," Gardner said. "It went really well. Some of the stories shared brought tears to your eyes. It was almost overwhelming to see the success of some these individuals and businesses."

Individual apprentices were given two awards: one for the Apprenticeship of the Year and the other for Personal Achievement in his/her apprenticeship award. This award recognised individuals who overcame adversity to successfully complete their apprenticeship.

"These apprentices showed an amazing level of commitment and determination," Gardner said.

Awards were given to businesses that showed an excellent apprenticeship program where apprentices would learn and interact with all employees. "These businesses showed a cultural commitment so that everybody within the company is associated with the (apprenticeship) program," Gardner said.

Into The Future

Gardner is encouraging all apprentices and apprenticeship schemes to apply for next year's awards.

"Everyone should apply," he said. "Our panel reads every application and every application is worth reading. There are some great stories about apprentices and apprenticeship programs. The panel has difficult job of picking out contenders."

The message is clear - apprenticeships are a valuable tool the entire UK work force.

Kate Watkins

How can apprenticeships be improved upon? Let us know in the FE Blog

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