Can engineering companies really afford to ignore apprenticeships?

Employers need to get behind apprenticeships – and here are three reasons why. 

  • Updated: 07 March, 2019
  • Author: Keith Smith, Apprenticeships Director, Education and Skills Funding Agency 

2019 is shaping up to be a truly exciting year for apprenticeships.  

Already it’s been a great start, with the launch of the new apprenticeship ‘Fire It Up’ campaign in January, which focuses on changing the ‘not-for-me’ mindset towards apprenticeships and is making a significant splash across TV, billboards, digital, and social channels.  

Thousands of engineering businesses are already offering world-class apprenticeship programmes. However, more firms need to come on board. Our aim with this campaign is to make all employers aware of the positive changes to apprenticeships and the significant benefits to their organisation.  

National Apprenticeship Week 2019 - Blaze a Trail

On the heels of this is National Apprenticeship Week, which runs until 8 March. The Week sees industry stakeholders and employers celebrating apprenticeships and their positive impact on organisations across England.  

Last year, was a record-breaking Week, and the biggest yet, with 780 events across the country, over 33,000 people engaging with our 10,000 talks movement and #NAW2018 trending on Twitter ahead of the Oscars!  

This year, our collective goal for the Week is to shift awareness of apprenticeships into action, encouraging more employers to start their own apprenticeship programmes and more people across the country to consider doing an apprenticeship.  

The theme for the Week is ‘Blaze a Trail’ and we’re calling on employers to take the lead and showcase how apprenticeships bring new energy into their businesses. 

3 ways employers benefit from apprentices 

An impressive 96% of employers with apprentices say they’ve experienced at least one benefit from taking on apprentices, and most can count at least eight benefits.  

Here are just three, applicable to every employer: 

  1. Meet your workforce objectives. There are several workforce challenges affecting the engineering sector; the skills gap, an ageing workforce, low productivity and lack of diversity are just a few.  

Apprenticeships are a tried and tested approach to tackling these and other workforce issues, as we know from working with employers across many sectors. Over two-thirds of employers had seen improved staff retention (69%) and three-quarters report improved productivity (78%) and staff morale (73%). 

  1. Sharpen your values. Increasingly customers, clients and employees are asking more of businesses. More people want to be associated with businesses that have a greater purpose, beyond profit making.  

Having apprentices in your business is a great way to boost your company image, allowing you to stand out from your competitors.  

  1. And the numbers stack up. All said, if you’re a business owner or head of finance, the bottom line is still paramount.  

For employers that don’t pay the apprenticeship levy, 90% of training costs for apprentices are government-funded. 

And for those who do pay the levy, it’s easy to open an account on the apprenticeship service to access your funds and pay directly for apprenticeship training - in fact over 90% of large employers have already done so.   

There are also savings for apprentice employers from lower recruitment costs.

In addition, there are indirect financial returns to consider. For example, a quarter of consumers are willing to pay more for products from a business they see as socially responsible, including apprentice employers.   

Apprenticeships have evolved

Apprenticeships have evolved significantly over the last few years. Today, there are many high-quality engineering apprenticeships available, from engineering surveyors, fitters through to operators, and a huge range of standards in support roles across, HR, IT, marketing, design, business admin to name a few.  

The move to employer-designed apprenticeships has allowed employers to develop apprenticeships that meet their needs. The quality has increased too, and the introduction of higher and degree-level apprenticeships has broadened the cohort of people completing them.  

There’s never been a better or more exciting time to consider apprenticeships, and I’d urge every employer to leave behind any preconceptions they might have – and take a fresh look. Speak to other apprentice employers in your region, or training providers, and hear their experience first-hand. To find more about apprenticeships, please visit: https://www.apprenticeships.gov.uk/  

If you want to get involved in National Apprenticeship Week 2019, please search NAW2019 on Gov.uk or contact us at: [email protected]

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