From education to employment


Babington, an award-winning training provider, together with leading business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP, have brought together prominent figures from both corporates and influential organisations, as well as real life insights from apprentices to showcase the opportunities apprenticeships bring for business growth.

Babington and Grant Thornton co-hosted the event ‘Apprenticeships: Driving Growth Through Diversity’ at the Imperial War Museum earlier this month, to discuss the importance of apprenticeships to the UK’s future and how they are essential for maintaining a competitive edge in business.

The thought-leadership event highlighted the positive impact that apprentices can have on organisations, with leaders evidencing that apprenticeships improve staff retention, drive social mobility, and how adopting a forward-thinking approach can help businesses to remain relevant in a competitive market when it comes to attracting the best candidates.

Dr Neil Bentley, CEO WorldSkills UK, presented first on the importance of investing in young people and apprenticeships to the UK’s future and how they play a pivotal part in business growth. “When you recruit young people, you will not only retain that talent and loyalty, but also save a lot in avoiding expensive recruitment processes. It also provides young people with the opportunity to grow and develop further skills, allowing organisations to utilise this talent across their whole business. But they key question is: are employers really young-people ready?”

David Allison, CEO and Co-Founder of GetMyFirstJob, highlighted the opportunities that apprenticeships offer in engaging with talent pools that are hard to reach, but reflect the diverse makeup of the UK’s population. David said “It’s great to have the opportunity to talk about the way in which diversity will be powering the growth agenda and apprentices are an ideal opportunity to do just this. We know when we look at the statistics that the greatest group of under-utilised talent in the UK is non-white, young people, of which about 1 in 4 are likely to be needing opportunities for work. So it’s a call to action for all businesses, large and small, to work together to figure out how they engage with these communities that make up the UK’s really rich and diverse talent base.”.

Key themes raised from the round table discussions, workshops and the panel Q&A included:

  • Benefits of having a diverse workforce
  • Loyalty and retaining talent through apprenticeships
  • What apprenticeships mean to the apprentices and what they bring to companies
  • Utilising the levy for maximum impact
  • Lessons learnt from the levy to date

We also heard from a series of apprentices working in construction, insurance and education, who gave valuable insights from the other side of the story. One panel member, Georgia Wilde, a Babington Apprentice Project Manager at Direct Line Group, commented: “The opportunities my apprenticeship has provided have been amazing – being able to work across different departments and try different roles coupled with the connections I have already made are invaluable, and I am so excited about what the future holds.”.

Carole Carson, Babington CEO, commented “Babington is proud to be involved in addressing the key challenges businesses face with the recent changes to apprenticeships. The discussions showed there are many key areas that must be urgently tackled to make apprenticeships even more successful. The government’s apprenticeship levy should be seen as an opportunity rather than a burden, and that now is the time to invest in our next generation of business leaders.”.

Justin Rix, Partner at Grant Thornton added: “Hearing from the apprentices on the panel really highlighted that apprenticeships not only offer a truly fantastic route for a young person to start their careers, but they also help organisations to recruit and nurture the talent they need for the future, which in turn helps the UK to remain competitive.”

The apprenticeship levy has been introduced as part of the UK government’s drive to increase employee skill development and create three million new apprenticeships by 2020. Employers with a wage bill over £3 million are required to pay a levy of 0.5 per cent of their payroll to support apprenticeships. In return, employers can claim back digital vouchers to partially offset costs associated with training.

About Babington: An award-winning apprenticeship provider with an Ofsted ‘Good’ rating. Babington delivers flexible learning solutions for apprenticeships in financial services, leadership and management, business admin, and sales and marketing, with an average 70% pass rate.

About Grant Thornton: One of the world’s leading organisations of independent assurance, tax and advisory firms. These firms help dynamic organisations unlock their potential for growth by providing meaningful, forward-thinking advice. Proactive teams, led by approachable partners in these firms, use insights, experience and instinct to understand complex issues for privately owned, publicly listed and public sector clients and help them to find solutions. More than 38,500 Grant Thornton people, across over 120 countries, are focused on making a difference to clients, colleagues and the communities in which we live and work. The UK Grant Thornton member firm provides services to over 40,000 privately held businesses, public interest entities and individuals. It is led by more than 185 partners and employs more than 4,600 of the profession’s brightest minds.

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