Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable

Almost half (44%) of businesses in the country plan to take on apprentices in the next 5 years.

Almost half (44%) of businesses in the country plan to take on apprentices in the next 5 years, according to new research released today (3 March 2014) to mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week.

This compares to just over 3 in 10 (36%) employers when asked the same question this time last year (2013).

The study of 600 businesses also reveals that a fifth (20%) of SMEs plan to take on 1 or more apprentices in the next 12 months alone, with more than a third (37%) of larger businesses planning to do the same, compared to 15% and 28% respectively in February 2013.

Around a third (32%) of those that plan to take on apprentices say this is because they are a core part of their growth strategy.

Ahead of a visit to BT, who recently announced that they would take on 730 more apprentices over the next year,

Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, said:

As we kick off National Apprenticeship Week it’s good to see that employers are increasingly recognising the value apprentices can bring to their businesses. Apprentices are now a key and valued part of the workforce for most businesses large or small – and the huge increase which this government has overseen is 1 of my proudest achievements.

Given the grants available to help small businesses take on apprentices, it’s especially good that so many SMEs are embracing apprenticeships in the coming years and that apprentice recruitment now forms a key part of a business’s plans for sustainable growth.

Gavin Patterson, Chief Executive of BT, said:

BT’s creating more than 700 new apprenticeships in the coming year, including a new digital media technology training scheme. I’m delighted we can play an extremely positive role by hiring these new apprentices and advancing their skills through mentoring and training.

Apprenticeships really deliver for our business. Hiring apprentices helps BT grow our own talent by developing a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce. And for the apprentices, an Apprenticeship is a way for them to earn while they learn in a real job, gaining a real qualification and a real future.

The study also shows how Apprenticeships are growing in popularity. In fact, 43% of employers agree they would be more likely to offer an Apprenticeship than they were 2 years ago. Of these nearly 2 in 5 (38%) said this was because the talent pool had widened as Apprenticeships become more popular, 33% because it had become easier to employ apprentices and 32% because they have more job roles in their business that would suit an apprentice. Overall, 41% of employers agreed that apprentices stay in the business longer than other recruits.

Furthermore, it would appear Apprenticeships are now filtering into supply chain selection criteria. 16% of SMEs and over a third (37%) of larger organisations say they have been questioned by clients or prospects about their apprentice recruitment policies.

This finding is mirrored in a supplementary study amongst some of the companies featured in the latest City & Guilds Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers List. Key findings from the bosses surveyed include:

  • 93% advocate apprentice recruitment through their supply chain
  • 78% say they would be more likely to choose a supplier or partner if they too offered Apprenticeships, with 18% of these saying apprentice recruitment is already part of their selection criteria

Now in its seventh year, National Apprenticeship Week is designed to celebrate Apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy. The overarching theme for 2014 has been Great Apprenticeships, to demonstrate that Apprenticeships are great for business and personal careers and create opportunities for both employers and apprentices.

As part of the week, the National Apprenticeship Service, in conjunction with Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative (SFEDI), has launched a new initiative to help small business owners on their Apprenticeship journey. Apprenticemakers is an online peer to peer mentoring community providing easy access to other businesses who have already taken on apprentices.

About The National Apprenticeship Service: The National Apprenticeship Service supports, funds and co-ordinates the delivery of Apprenticeships and Traineeships throughout England.

We are responsible for increasing the number of Apprenticeship and Traineeship opportunities and providing a dedicated, responsive service for both employers and learners. This includes simplifying the process of recruiting an apprentice or trainee through Apprenticeship vacancies, an online system where employers can advertise their vacancies and potential apprentices or trainees can apply.

Apprenticeships bring considerable value to organisations, employers, individuals and the economy. Businesses across the country are increasingly realising the enormous benefits that Apprenticeships create, not only in terms of developing a highly skilled workforce but also by boosting productivity and staff retention.

Research shows that Apprenticeships are an optimal way of training, developing and skilling people for the future, helping businesses to secure a supply of people with the skills and qualities they need and which are often not available on the external job market.

A Traineeship is an education and training programme with a work placement that is focused on giving young people the skills and experience that employers are looking for. At its core are work preparation training, English and maths for those who need it, and a high quality work experience placement.

Traineeships are for young people aged 16 to 23 who are motivated to get a job but who lack the skills and experience that employers are looking for. Traineeships prepare young people for their future careers by helping them to become ‘work ready’. They give young people the skills and experience to be able to compete for an Apprenticeship or other job.

Traineeships are a stepping stone to future success for young people, businesses and the wider economy. There has never been a better time to employ an apprentice, or start an Apprenticeship.

About The Skills Funding Agency: The Skills Funding Agency is a partner organisation of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Its job is to fund and promote adult further education (FE) and skills training in England, including Traineeships and Apprenticeships, in a way which supports economic growth. The Agency delivers £4.1 billion of skills training through contracts with over 1,000 colleges, private training organisations and employers, with a highly effective supply chain that means FE meets local need in the most cost-effective way.

Within the Skills Funding Agency, there are 2 customer-facing services: the National Apprenticeship Service, which is responsible for increasing the number of Traineeship and Apprenticeship opportunities, and the National Careers Service, which provides impartial careers information, advice and guidance online, by telephone or face-to-face. The Skills Funding Agency also hosts the Information Authority, an independent body that acts on behalf of organisations involved in further education and training in England, setting data standards and governing data collection.

The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

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