Tuesday 5 March 2019 10:37 am

Thinking about taking on an apprentice? National Apprenticeship Week is a good time to start

One of the great things about my job as a minister is hearing from employers about the positive impact that apprentices have had on their businesses.

Employers often talk about the energy and enthusiasm that apprentices bring to the workplace. And they are not just talking about young people either, but apprentices of all ages and backgrounds.

More employers, including the likes of Royal Mail, EY, and Channel 4, are offering people a chance to get a good job and launch their career.

It’s about time

Apprentices bring new and innovative ideas to the workplace.

Recent survey results showed that employers have reported benefits, such as improved productivity, better service quality, as well as the new ideas apprentices bring to their organisation.

Of those employers surveyed, 83 per cent would also recommend apprentices to other businesses.

The latest figures show that there were 132,000 people starting apprenticeships in the first three months of the 2018/19 academic year – a rise of 15 per cent on this time last year.

Despite this, there is still some scepticism from employers about apprenticeships, which will take time to turn around.

A viable option?

In 2017, we overhauled the apprenticeship system, because both apprentices and employers said that they were not seen as a viable option.

Many thought that apprenticeships were too short, did not include enough off-the-job training, and trainees were not learning the skills that are needed by employers.

Nearly two years on and things are very different.

Our new apprenticeship “standards” are designed by employers themselves and are longer, higher-quality, with more off-the-job training and a proper assessment at the end.

We worked with employers to design the new system because it is them, and not the government, who are best placed to decide what skills apprentices need for their businesses.

There are almost 400 new apprenticeship standards available in every profession, including engineering, accountancy, law, retail, and fashion, with options to train right up to master’s degree level.

The number of people starting on our new-style apprenticeship standards has risen by 139,100 compared to last year – a sure sign that things are improving.

Outdated attitudes

Our recently launched Fire it Up campaign hopes to help challenge outdated attitudes towards apprenticeships, and to raise awareness of the huge variety of options available.

The campaign aims to help more employers see how hiring an apprentice is a great way to develop the skilled and experienced workforce that they need.

Our apprentice stars are of all ages and backgrounds, from employers including the Royal Opera House, Pizza Express, and even the NHS.

The scheme is a win-win for everyone. By taking on an apprentice, you can kick-start someone’s career, and benefit your business in the process.