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We need to make it easier for people to get great apprenticeships and fill critical skills shortages in essential jobs

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO, City & Guilds

With #NationalApprenticeshipWeek happening this week, Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO City & Guilds, the skills development organisation, is looking at why investing in great apprenticeships will be a key route to filling critical skills shortages in the jobs that keep the UK working:

The apprenticeship system needs a reboot to make it easier for employers to offer apprenticeships and for people to find and start apprenticeships

Data insights from the Great Jobs report, which launched last week, reveals that the critical industries that keep the UK running are at risk of collapse as Brits shun essential jobs:

  • There are 3.1 million key worker job openings expected in next five years – making up 50% of openings in UK job market. But only around a quarter of Brits would consider working in many of those roles that keep the UK running.
    • E.g. Just a quarter of working age adults would work in social care (25%) and healthcare (26%) and 22% would work in food production, agriculture or animal care
  • Lack of relevant skills, experience or qualifications is one of the key reasons putting people off working in some of the most important jobs to our economy

Government, employers, and educational organisations need to work together to:

  • Remove red tape around apprenticeships, especially for SMEs to make it easier to take on apprentices
  • Continue with employer incentives for young people to provide more opportunities and encourage them into apprenticeship routes
  • Clarify the flexi-apprenticeship route so that apprentices aren’t left without an employer at the end of their apprenticeship
  • Broaden the recruitment pool of apprentices by making it possible for offenders to access apprenticeship programmes 
  • Be careful not to remove traineeships, and level 2 qualifications, which are a first rung on the ladder for many, playing an important role in helping people access apprenticeships
  • Continuing to improve careers advice is a must, focusing on a broader range of options for young people to get into work

The pandemic shone a light on the many workers that are critical to the running of our country, such as health and social care and food production – a significant number of which are trained via apprenticeships and other vocational or technical education pathways.

But now, critical skills shortages are putting these sectors on a cliff edge. Our Great Jobs research revealed employers are struggling to get the skilled workforce they need – with many people reluctant to work in these roles, and citing lack of relevant skills or experience as a top reason why.

In the face of low unemployment and immigration from the EU, and high levels of economic activity, apprenticeships will be a crucial way for essential industries to train and recruit the homegrown talent they need to fill these skills shortages.

As the Government looks to ‘level up’ the country, the value of apprenticeships mustn’t be overlooked.

We need adequate investment for improving apprenticeships and their take up, to help tackle the mismatch between the supply and demand of talent.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO, City & Guilds

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