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National Apprenticeship Week 2024: Sector Response

national apprenticeship week 2024 Sector Reaction

Welcome to our National Apprenticeship Week 2024 Sector Response. Read key stakeholder’s responses from across the sector. National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) is a week-long celebration of everything Apprenticeships, from entry level to Degree Apprenticeships and is an opportunity for the education and skills sector to celebrate the achievements of apprentices around the country and the positive impact they make to communities, businesses, raising productivity to inceasing social mobility.

When is National Apprenticeship Week 2024?

National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) 2024 is the 17th annual celebration of apprenticeships. This year, it is being held from 5th – 11th February and the theme is ‘Skills for Life’.

The 7 Days of National Apprenticeship Week 2024

  1. Monday: Apprenticeships for all!
  2. Tuesday: Employer Tuesday
  3. Wednesday: Apprentice Wednesday
  4. Thursday: T Level Thursday
  5. Friday: Celebration Friday
  6. Saturday & Sunday: The NAW Weekender

The latest figures show an 11% increase in the number of young people starting their apprenticeship journey

By the end of 2022 almost 90 per cent of 16-17 year olds were in education or apprenticeships. The latest figures show an 11% increase in the number of young people starting their apprenticeship journey compared to the same point last year, with young people continuing to make up over half of all apprenticeship starts.

Apprenticeships are a cornerstone of the government’s plans to provide people with an excellent route into some of the best careers and contributing to a high-skill, high-productivity economy.

Since 2010, over 5.7 million people have started their apprenticeship journey and the government is increasing investment in apprenticeships to £2.7 billion by 2024-25, ensuring businesses have a pipeline of talent to grow the economy.

Sector Response to #NAW2024

Jenny Taylor MBE, Leader of IBM UK’s Early Professional Programmes:

“The UK is on a mission to become a technology powerhouse, but it faces a skills gap that presents both short and long-term challenges for businesses. There is an ever increasing demand for AI and other digital skills, and technology advances so quickly that traditional forms of education need to be supplemented to train our future workforce and meet this demand.

“While university degrees are still a great option for many students, they don’t get the relevant work experience to apply the knowledge. In response, IBM also offers apprenticeship schemes across a range of skills, including user design and cybersecurity. Like university graduates, our apprentices are expected to work in client-facing roles and support large projects, except they do this from day one.

“At IBM, we’re very proud of a 90% completion rate in our apprenticeship programme, already surpassing the Government’s target of 67% by 2025. It’s important to note that apprenticeship schemes require time and resources, especially from existing employees to help train apprentices, so it’s no small task, especially for SMEs. However, for those considering this alternative, help is available.”

Kelly Becker, Zone President of Schneider Electric UK and Ireland Said:

“Some of the best people I’ve had the pleasure of working with have climbed the ranks through our apprenticeship programme. Apprenticeships offer a dynamic and fulfilling route to success, fostering both technical and interpersonal skills, and the flexibility to shift roles based on business learning, allowing talent to progress quickly. Local programmes like ours allow businesses to plug regional skills gaps and future-proof their workforces for years to come while helping progress the government’s focus on green jobs up and down the country.

“That’s why we’re doubling the number of opportunities for our Schneider Electric UK & Ireland apprentice scheme this year. We know that apprenticeships create skills for life, but we also appreciate that there is still a general lack of awareness in the market about their benefits. Often, people don’t know where to start or perceive roles to be limited to manual labour. As National Apprenticeship Week approaches, it should serve as a reminder that businesses must play a vital role in changing perceptions, including by working with education providers to increase the understanding of the opportunities available.” 

Graham Glass, CEO, and founder of CYPHER Learning:

“Skills for life” should be a mantra organisations apply to every employee, not just those doing apprenticeships. Apprenticeship schemes can, however, help catalyse a more skilled and productive workforce for the long term. Bear in mind skills development should be attuned to the key competencies of each employee’s role, and embedded within a fine-grained, personalised approach to workplace training. This equips apprentices to achieve excellence in their respective roles and make key contributions to the business.

But organisations frequently fall short of this ideal. Apprentices, as well as seasoned employees of long standing, are too often trained with static, outdated PowerPoints. This does not promote individual learning and development. The WEF predicts that the global workforce is entering ‘a new era of turbulence’, with 25% of roles dramatically changing over the next five years – compounded by rapid adoption of fast-maturing new technologies like AI. This serves to show that multi-skilled employees will be central to long-term business success. As we celebrate national apprenticeship week and the value apprenticeships can bring to businesses, let’s also see businesses invest in the skills and value of the apprentices themselves.”

Stewart Watts, VP EMEA at D2L said:

“To truly deliver skills for life, the way in which we value, deliver and measure learning needs to change. With AI set to impact 40 percent of jobs around the world, apprenticeship programmes need to be forward-thinking and fit for the digital economy. The government, education and enterprise all have a joint responsibility to help prepare individuals for the jobs of tomorrow and establish a culture of lifelong learning. Together, they need to make that we have the right tools in place that will enable young, aspiring professionals to thrive.

“The current talent shortage is particularly complex as it is centred around technical skills. One of the key areas apprenticeships will focus on is digital skills, as the government attempts to address the digital divide, and also help those industries who are struggling to fill vacancies and create a steady talent-pipeline. However, digital skills are difficult to nurture, and even harder to assess. For future apprenticeships to be effective, all subject matter experts should be involved in the design phase. Modularity, or an omnichannel approach towards education and training, will be essential.

“Moving forwards, both apprentices and current employees need to be able to top up their skills periodically, so part-time learning needs to be more accessible, with enterprises prioritising micro-credentials and shorter courses which can be delivered ‘on demand’. This will only be achieved as colleges and businesses continue to work more closely and identify new ways that they can work together. Knowledge transfer through mentoring can also build bridges within workforces and take advantage of the skills and strengths of the entire demographic for a sustainable pipeline of talent.”

Yves Schneuwly, Group Chief Commercial Officer at Coople comments: 

“National Apprenticeship Week is now in its 17th year, and the theme for 2024 is ‘Skills For Life’. The opportunity to upskill and access professional training is something that is very important to us at Coople. It’s great to see such a diverse range of apprenticeships available for people of any age who want to develop their skills.  

“Although apprenticeships involve independent study, one of the most valuable aspects of this type of training is the fact that you learn while on the job. Apprentices really become a part of the team, however long their placement is, and can achieve great things as part of the business while they are there.  

“Apprentices can benefit from taking on temporary and flexible work during their training. Not only is it a way to supplement their income, but it is also an opportunity to gain additional work experience and develop their skills.  

“It can also improve the job-hunting experience. Adding temporary roles to a CV shows that you are a hard-working individual, able to complete an apprenticeship while taking on other commitments at the same time. Also, after graduating from an apprenticeship qualification, some might not wish to stay at the company they trained with or might not be able to. While searching for a permanent role, temporary or flexible work can be a useful stop gap, providing graduate apprentices with a means of income, and preventing gaps in their employment history. 

”Temporary work can also be a networking opportunity, giving apprentices and graduates the chance to meet and make a good impression on many different employers in different sectors. The more people you work with, the more people there are who can give you a professional reference, become a mentor or consider you when they are hiring in future.” 

Martyn Bridges, Director of Technical Services at Worcester Bosch comments:

“National Apprenticeship Week serves as a crucial time to celebrate and promote the value of apprenticeships in nurturing skilled professionals who drive innovation and excellence throughout the UK. This week underscores the importance of investing in apprenticeship programs to empower individuals, strengthen communities, and advance the trades industry forward.

“The education and fostering of apprentices is pivotal to ensuring a robust pipeline of skilled workers, particularly at a time when the UK is facing a shortage of skilled tradespeople. With research from Kingfisher showing that the UK economy is set to miss out on £98 billion of GDP growth opportunities up to 2030 due to the lack of skilled tradespeople, the development of apprentices in the trades has never been more crucial.”

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