On the one hand, those with the potential for leadership. The idealists fit for the long run, with the mindset to move up through the ranks from day one. On the other hand, the pragmatic. The work-ready with practical skills and tailored niche knowledge, who can impact their team’s productivity right from the start.
Apprenticeships have been for far too long overshadowed by university degrees, and affected by a distorted perception in the UK. With the job market being more competitive than ever, employers became hesitant to hire and train young people under the wrong assumptions. However, ideas that apprenticeships involve too much effort; that they serve few industries; or that they have a lower status than college-based learning, is becoming obsolete.
Today, not only is there a range of training offers for over 170 industries, there is also an increasing awareness that businesses should accommodate both graduates and apprentices. So much so, that apprenticeships have reached record highs during the 2015 academic year. In England alone, organisations have welcomed 871,800 young learners, finding the skills they need for the growth they seek.
The rise of a new perception
Employers begin to understand that, in having to invest time training entry-level candidates, it turns out to be more productive to get hands-on staff; easily moldable into the organisations’ ways; without graduate salary demands for the duration of their training. Top brands such as BMW, Unilever, Virgin and BBC are among the businesses that better understand this reality. BAE Systems, one of the world’s leading providers of technology-led defense solutions, recruits over 400 apprentices each year in the UK; an example to show that wrong assumptions don’t necessarily correspond to the truth.
Yes, it is true that the term ‘apprenticeship’ has been misused to promote low-quality courses, getting young unemployed people into low-skilled, low-paid jobs with few progression opportunities. That is why the government is seeking to shield the term, in the same way that the title ‘degree’ is protected by legislation – to ensure that these comply with high standards and gain the same respect as higher education. And that is also why successful businesses choose legitimate providers who can prepare young professionals to integrate organisations’ culture and values. Giving them a sense of purpose, beyond functionality. Employers can (and should) design high-quality programmes in collaboration with the right partners, to recruit new talent and upskill existing employees.
Companies preparing to embrace apprenticeships and traineeships as they do graduate programmes, will not only acquire relevant skills to enhance their productivity, they will actively contribute to the socio-economic evolution in the UK. For a little perspective, half of young Germans choose apprenticeships over universities, securing long-term employment and efficiently benefiting their country. And apparently, their economy isn’t looking so bad: it is the strongest in Europe, with the lowest youth unemployment rates, and the fourth-largest economy by nominal GDP in the world. Food for thought.
To learn more about our apprenticeship programmes, call us on 01302 373 003.