From education to employment

National Apprenticeship Week: Skills for Life

National apprenticeship week

This year, the UK’s National Apprenticeship Week 2023 (6 -12th February) will focus on the theme “Skills For Life”.

National Apprenticeship Week brings together apprenticeship ambassadors, MPs, training providers, apprentices, parents and employers to celebrate the work being done across the whole apprenticeship community, promoting apprenticeships and their impact.

In this video, Rob Halfon, Minister of State, Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, discusses the importance of #NAW2023 and this years theme of #SkillsForLife

Sector Response

Chief Executive, NOCN Group

Graham Hasting-Evans, Chief Executive of NOCN Group said

“Apprenticeships are a create way that people can get started on their careers or move to a new sector or occupation. They earn whilst they are learning and are building the confidence in themselves, so they know they have the competencies to do the job. And for employers it is great as well.  

“The apprentices start to be productive from early on and the employers are building a talent pipeline of people that can do the job they want.”

Tom Cheek

Tom Cheek, Apprenticeship Lead, Science Council:

“Apprenticeships offer a hugely diverse range of opportunity, covering entry level 2 occupational roles right through to higher and degree apprenticeships.  This offers the ability for employer trailblazer group to identify and develop apprenticeships that meet specific occupational needs and address skill gaps right across their workforce.

“Employers benefit from apprenticeships, as it supports them in meeting workforce skill needs, both for the present and the future, be it bringing in new members to the workforce or upskilling existing staff.  Individuals benefit as they can access an apprenticeship that delivers full occupational competence, with the opportunity for progression and growth.

“With the development of apprenticeships, there is the opportunity to integrate professional standards within the occupational standards that define the apprenticeship.  If this can be established, it enables apprentices (on completion), to access the benefits of being professionally registered within their field, with the professional body offering guidance and support that can facilitate long-term career growth and professionalism.  At the Science Council we have been working with IfATE and trailblazer groups to do just this, with over 20 apprenticeships offering a shortened route to becoming professionally registered.”

Jill Coyle

Jill Coyle, Apprenticeship Manager at Nestlé UK & Ireland:

“We have invested in apprenticeships for almost 60 years at Nestlé, and we hugely value the benefits of building skills alongside embedding behaviours in the workplace. We offer 31 different apprenticeship programmes and have almost 200 apprentices in our business.

“Our apprenticeship schemes are open to people from all backgrounds. Diversity brings fresh thinking, new energies and great ideas to businesses in all sectors, and for us, ensures that we continue to meet the needs of our consumers, customers and colleagues.

“Our belief is that apprenticeships can help anyone reach their full potential. And as well as developing the skills needed in their line of work, we know our apprentices develop confidence, resilience, teamwork skills and many other vital skills for life.”

Teresa Frith, Senior Policy Manager at the Association of Colleges

Teresa Frith, Senior Skills Policy Manager at AoC:

“Apprenticeships can be a great way to transition from learning into work and a way to progress within work. Having an all age, all level programme can be challenging at times, but it does create a great platform for those who wish to focus on learning whilst in work at all stages.

“The new standards give a good balance of academic rigour with access to practical skills, they are in no way a ‘second class citizen’ in education any more.

“We need to be mindful of this when considering how the less academically able access such opportunities to develop their careers to ensure we don’t cut them off from great life chances by removing the stepping stone qualifications and programmes needed both in and out of work to access our apprenticeships.”

Cerian Ayres, National Head of Technical Education at the Education and Training Foundation

Cerian Ayres, National Head of Technical Education at the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), said:

“National Apprenticeship Week is a time for celebrating the achievement of apprentices across the country, and the positive impact apprenticeships have on the lives of individuals, businesses, and the wider economy. Apprenticeships are a ladder to successful employment for many, supporting lifelong learning and social mobility irrespective of an individual’s age, socio-economic status, or locality.

“As well as equipping individuals with skills for career progression or for an exciting career change, apprenticeships build individuals’ life skills, and develop their world view. Moreover, they build essential skills for the future. Apprenticeships are vital for increasing technical skills across the UK economy so we can meet the demands of technological advancement and progress with climate action and the march towards Net Zero.

“While this week is a time to celebrate all these wonderful benefits of apprenticeships, it’s also an opportunity to consider how we can always be striving to improve experiences and outcomes for apprentices. This involves ensuring apprenticeships are inclusive and accessible, and it means ensuring the best apprenticeship outcomes through the constant improvement of delivery. The Department for Education has made a considerable investment in improving the quality of apprenticeship delivery through the Apprenticeship Workforce Development (AWD) programme, being delivered by the ETF, in partnership with AoC, AELP, SDN, and UVAC. Such investment enables the delivery of new training and resources to support the sector in delivering the best outcomes for apprentices at all levels.”

Anna Ambrose

Anna Ambrose, Director, London Progression Collaboration:

“Alongside the brilliant celebrations of all things apprenticeships this week, I was struck that National Apprenticeships Week coincides with Children’s Mental Health Week. With last year’s Youth Voice Census showing that uncertainty over the future and a lack of high-quality options with fair pay are significant contributory factors affecting young people’s worsening mental health, the two are more closely related than we might think.

“SMEs are traditionally a key employer of young people at the start of their careers, but number of apprenticeship starts in non levy paying businesses is still far too low.

“Let’s use this NAW to commit to supporting SMEs to create accessible apprenticeships within the communities that our young people live in, and to paying them fairly.”

Vikki Marriott, UK Apprenticeship Lead at Mars Wrigley UK, said: 

“At Mars, we’ve been in the business of apprenticeships for decades, so we’ve certainly seen many advantages throughout the years, and we really value the contribution our apprentices make to our business. As a Mars apprentice, you’ll get to work across brands like Snickers, Maltesers and Mars – gaining valuable experience, learning new skills, and earning from day one. In fact, around 78% of apprentices continue at Mars after graduating, embarking on an exciting career working across our iconic brands. 

National Apprenticeship Week is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate and recognise the achievements of our Mars apprentices, but also to shine a light on the positive impact of apprenticeships on individuals and businesses across the country. At Mars we empower our apprentices to take ownership of the career development, encouraging them to make the most of the hands-on experience and the qualifications that we offer to propel them into a successful career at Mars.” 

Tania Gandamihardja, Group Director of Human Resources at BAE Systems, said:

“Faced with economic challenges not seen in a generation, it’s essential for businesses like ours to invest in the next generation to equip young people with the skills they need to achieve their full potential and support social mobility.

“Providing high-quality early careers programmes gives young people a route into long-term employment and helps recruit the talent we need to deliver on vital national defence and security programmes, such as the Tempest next-generation combat aircraft and Dreadnought nuclear submarines.”

Karen Jones, Human Resources Director at Redrow comments:

“Apprenticeships provide fantastic opportunities to earn whilst you learn and our latest research shows many young people are now reconsidering their career options amidst the cost-of-living crisis.

“More than a quarter (27%) of young adults (16 to 24) in the UK are now re-evaluating their finances and career choices because of the cost-of-living crisis, prioritising apprenticeships over higher education. 

“However, despite apprenticeships growing in popularity among young people two in three (68%) still believe that there is a general stigma associated with being an apprentice, rather than pursuing higher education.

“Given the disruption to the nation’s classrooms over the past three years in the wake of the pandemic pupils have been more likely to miss out on careers advice and now with the cost-of-living crisis and extremely high costs of university fees it has never been more important for young people to be made aware of apprenticeship routes. 

“It was particularly concerning to see this year, therefore, that 41% of young people say they weren’t told anything about apprenticeships at school, the highest level we’ve seen since we started surveying in 2017. Having now seen a consecutive decline in these results for the last four years it is critical that the quality of careers advice available to young people is improved.

“The advice offered in schools is absolutely key to inspiring young people to choose the career path that best suits them, so we are calling on the government to take urgent steps to arrest this decline and improve the quality of careers education for young people and to make them recognise apprenticeships as an equally valid step towards a successful career. 

“We are committed to playing our part to help break the stigma around apprentices and construction as a career path by offering more information for schools and parents as well as promoting the benefits among young people to demonstrate how apprentices can equip them with skills for life and put them on the path to a successful and fulfilling career. It is our job to provide the very best training to create a sustainable future and apprentices are the lifeblood of our industry. 

“As a gold member of the 5% Club, we are committed to ensuring apprentices, graduates and trainees make up at least 5% of the workforce in the next five years. However, in practice, we go well beyond this with 15% of our total colleagues currently working towards qualifications or on the job training, such as apprenticeships. 

“This National Apprenticeship Week we are encouraging more young people to consider a career in construction with over 70 nationwide trade positions being released.  To find out more, please visit:”

Lisa Rose, Accenture’s HR Lead in the UK, said:

“Accenture’s apprenticeship programmes offer the next generation of talent a great head start to a career in technology or consulting. We use our expertise and world class training programmes to develop people with skills that our clients need today, and in the long term, so you have future-proof skills. We’re one of the world’s largest consulting and technology firms operating in many different sectors and industries, and work with the very latest technologies to bring about change for clients and wider society. 

“If you’re ready for the world of work, have a passion for technology and a strong desire to learn, then our apprenticeship programme could be right up your street. We don’t ask for specific qualifications, except for a bright mind, the motivation to succeed, and the ability to think logically and work well in a team.”

Matt Ravenhill, Director, EMEA Corporate Learning at D2L:

“To truly deliver skills for life, there needs to be a serious cultural change in the way we value, deliver and measure learning. The government, education and enterprise all have a joint responsibility to help prepare individuals for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Businesses have a significant role to play to help ensure apprenticeships are a success by shifting away from the traditional mode of learning and having the right tools in place that will enable them to make full use of their expertise.

“Apprenticeships also encourage multigenerational workforces, which present a particular set of advantages to companies striving to build the right blend of skills. Initiatives that expand digital skills, while capitalising on the knowledge of experienced employees, are important to companies’ competitive market positions.

“Some tips for organisations wanting to build skills for life into their workforces include reviewing their existing onboarding initiatives to ensure they take account of different employees’ needs, which are likely to have changed. Companies can also introduce micro-credentials – shorter courses delivered ‘on demand’ through flexible learning pathways that provide a way to rapidly upskill employees of all experience levels in targeted areas. 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.

“To ensure the success of modern apprenticeships, hybrid working must be supported through hybrid learning; workplaces entirely tied to the office for in-person training will find learning and development in the hybrid era especially challenging. A blended model will mean employees are equipped to build skills anytime, anywhere, on their own terms.”

James Kelly, CEO of Corndel, the strategic skills partner, said: 

“More employers should use the apprenticeship levy as a means of funding workplace development in the current economic climate, resisting the standard recession-era practice of letting training drop down their list of priorities. 

“Apprenticeships are a key piece in the puzzle to solve the current need to upskill staff and close the skills gap in the UK. And employees want more development opportunities as part of their professional progression too: our recent Workplace trends report, which surveyed 500 senior HR leaders and 2,000 employees, found 60% of employees would be more likely to go for a position with a personalised professional development and career progression plan, even when another job offered a slightly higher salary.”

Corndel designs and delivers award-winning programmes to help people upskill their leadership, data and digital competencies across many different roles. Their new report on workplace training showed that money is not always the answer in attracting talent in these difficult times for recruitment. 6/10 are more likely to choose career progression opportunities over £2,000 extra salary in identical roles (survey of 500 HR professionals and 2,000 employees).

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Skills and apprenticeships, Social impact, Featured voices

Related Articles