How businesses can reap the benefits of Britain’s apprenticeship revolution

Andrew Parmley
Young Apprentices Begin Working At Cammell Laird Shipyard
More than three quarters of young people said that going on an apprenticeship improved their skills and career prospects (Source: Getty)

We are in a period of extensive apprenticeship change, and with the new apprenticeship levy now in force, on-the-job training has been brought into closer focus.

Engaging in apprenticeships is one of many ways in which employers can acquire and develop the skills their firms need, while improving the employability of the younger generation.

Research from the Evaluation Employer Survey has shown that 76 per cent of businesses experienced a wide range of benefits as a result of training apprentices – including improved productivity, increased staff morale and staff retention, as well as generating new ideas.

More than three quarters of young people said that going on an apprenticeship improved their skills and career prospects, while four in five recommended them to others, according to new research from YMCA.

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These statistics show the benefits of apprenticeships and why businesses should consider doing more.

In my role as lord mayor, it is vital that I listen to what businesses have to say. The levy has received a mixed reaction from some. That is why we have held a number of outreach sessions with businesses to let them know about the levy, and how they can prepare for it and embrace it.

Before becoming lord mayor of the City of London, I was appointed to the UK government’s Apprenticeship Delivery Board. It is a position I hold with pride. As part of my strong commitment to apprenticeships, I will be hosting the launch of the Institute for Apprenticeships later this month.

The Institute for Apprenticeships will ensure employers get the quality skills that they need from the apprenticeships system by acting as the ultimate decision-maker on apprenticeship standards and assessment plans.

On skills, we have developed a guide – The City’s Business – which sets out how employers can help tackle youth unemployment.

It is a fantastic guide, written with the full support of professional groups, educators, and the GLA – and it’s already helped many employers to identify talent that, previously, they might have dismissed.

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Through our charity, City Bridge Trust, we support wider London through grants totalling around £20m a year to back projects run by third sector organisations to tackle disadvantage – reducing youth unemployment, addressing mental health and much more.

We host The Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards which reward long-term involvement by London businesses in helping local communities. And the annual City Giving Day, organised by the Lord Mayor’s Appeal, recognises the contribution of businesses and their employees to community engagement.

Alongside our skills agenda, I am passionate about social mobility – and the City Corporation is the proud sponsor of The Social Mobility Employer Index, which rates employers on their efforts to increase social mobility.

I want to encourage employers to apply to the index and consider addressing social mobility through their apprenticeships scheme. Firms can do this by ensuring a diverse apprentice intake and providing progression routes through the apprenticeship levels and beyond.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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