From education to employment

Why apprentices should be found in every forward-thinking organisation

The coming months are set to be a crucial time for the education and training landscape. As the new Government finds its feet, the initial signs are very encouraging and indicate a continuing commitment to the value of Apprenticeships in the workplace.

In May the CBI/EDI Education and Skills Survey was published which asked over 600 UK employers to give their priorities for the new Government. Ensuring young people are equipped with the employability skills they need to succeed in the workplace was top of the wish list for 70 per cent of those surveyed. The survey also showed continuing enthusiasm amongst employers for providing Apprenticeships, with 54 per cent currently offering them and another 14 per cent hoping to get involved in the coming months. Despite all the upheaval of the past 18 months, employers still know a good thing when they see it.

Under current economic conditions, employers need to ensure they have a steady stream of skilled employees to help them meet the demands of their customers; Apprenticeships can play a vital role in sustaining this flow. Investment in Apprenticeships not only increases the skills base of a company, it has a direct impact on the bottom line. According to statistics published by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), 80 per cent of apprentice employers said they noticed a significant increase in productivity when employing apprentices.

EDI works in partnership with employers, further education colleges and private training providers to award a wide range of vocational qualifications, including Apprenticeships. We’re committed to maintaining the highest standards for these vocational qualifications to ensure they offer a robust alternative to more traditional academic routes.

This year we’re once again sponsoring the Apprentice of the Year category at the National Apprenticeship Awards, our way of celebrating the valuable contribution of apprentices from across the country and the commitment of the organisations that employ them.

With over 190 different Apprenticeship programmes now available, there is scope for employers of all types and size to get involved. As well as programmes in the traditional trades of carpentry and plumbing, Apprenticeships are now offered in new areas such as creative and cultural, information technology and retail.

In terms of the training apprentices receive, I would argue that the mixture of practical experience and theoretical knowledge required by all apprentices to complete their qualification is exactly what modern businesses need in order to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Whilst it is important to learn the theory of something it is also essential that this learning can be applied practically. We are in danger of restricting the potential of those who learn better in a more practical setting. Apprenticeships are not the easy way out for people with poor academic records. They are challenging programmes that present a different route to success for individuals looking to reach their potential in the world of work.

I would challenge the 32 per cent of employers we surveyed who don’t yet have an apprentice on board, or aren’t yet contemplating hiring one, to find out what they’re missing. And I can vouch for the benefits; EDI has three apprentices and is currently recruiting more.

Chris Bolton is director of external relations at EDI, the leading provider of work based learning qualifications

Click here to read the full CBI/EDI Skills Survey

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