From education to employment

Apprenticeships – The Key To Business’ Post-Covid Recovery?

National Apprenticeship Week 2022 takes place this week, from 7-13th February 2022. Grant Santos, CEO at leading training provider Educ8 Training, shares how apprentices are driving business’ recovery from the initial shock of the pandemic.

For many businesses the pandemic has been a period of uncertainty. Lockdowns and restrictions have impacted every aspect of how organisations operate, from supply chains, to working arrangements and the delivery of products and services. It has also had a crushing effect on the jobs market, with youth unemployment increasing when lockdowns began, especially amongst sectors hit the hardest.

Supporting both employers and learners through training and development is more important than ever. The theme of the 15th annual Apprenticeship Week is ‘Build the Future’, linking back to the key pillars of the Build Back Better campaign. At Educ8, we recognise high-quality training is crucial to prepare our communities for what the future holds.

As the economic and social environment continues to evolve at a fast pace, skills and apprenticeships will play a significant part in how businesses recover from the pandemic, supporting adaptation and growth for the future.  

Recruiting has become a challenge

In a business barometer conducted by the Open University, 63% of decision makers agreed that their organisation found recruitment difficult in the last year, with candidates lacking the required skills for the role.

Some 64% think that a lack of candidate skills has lengthened the recruitment process and several businesses have recruited at a lower level than expected in the last year, spending money on training new hires to upskill them, at an average of cost £16,800.

Yet forward-thinking employers have outlined their training strategies to ensure future success for their business.

More than half say apprenticeships and work-based learning will play a crucial part in the future of their organisations, and 96% of businesses that currently employ apprentices expect to maintain or increase their number of apprenticeships in the next 12months.

Across the UK, governments have made commitments to education and training spending. This will be essential to bridging the skills gap to aid business’ recovery.

In Wales, the government invested £152min apprenticeships in 2021, including £18.7m in employer incentives to recruit and support young people. The Welsh Government subsequently launched its YoungPerson’s Guarantee, designed to provide everyone under 25 the offer of work, education, training, or self-employment.

Incentives launched during the pandemic to help Welsh businesses recruit apprentices were also extended through to 2022, with businesses able to claim up to £4,000 for each new apprentice, based on age and contract hours.

These incentives, which form part of Welsh Government’s pledge to support businesses in recovering from the impacts of Coronavirus, have already seen more than 5,500 new apprentices recruited since August 2020 – they were due to close in September 2021, but will now continue until the end of February 2022.

The key to building business’ futures

This financial backing of apprenticeships is based on proven benefits. Data from the organisers of National Apprenticeship Week indicates that:

· 86% of employers said apprenticeships helped them develop skills relevant to their organisation

· 78% said that apprenticeships helped them improve productivity

· 74% said they helped improve the quality of their product or service

These high ratings reflect the mutually beneficial nature of apprenticeships.

An apprentice adds further value to a business, such as up-to-date knowledge through their continuous learning and handling low-level tasks so senior staff can focus their attention where it is most needed. This could be rebuilding or even upscaling the business, preparing for the ‘next normal’ and what that will involve.

An apprenticeship may also be suitable for a current member of staff, such as those in management positions, to develop their leadership skills and styles and in turn enhance how the business operates.

As apprenticeships can be tailored to meet employer needs, they get to decide which skills their ideal employee should have, before working with Educ8 Training to create a curriculum that can develop them.

By directly addressing certain skills gaps, an apprenticeship provides an opportunity to fill that vacancy in a way that promotes continued growth and development and raises a business’ standard, giving them an edge within their sectors.

Educ8 Training was founded on these values, in response to skills shortages in the south Wales area. Run with an ethos driven by the values of honesty, integrity, respect and positivity, we are passionate about ensuring people reach their full potential to boost jobs and enterprise in Wales.

In a competitive post-Covid world, nurturing potential grow this an essential part of how businesses transition from surviving to thriving once more.

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