Apprenticeships have proved to be major career boosters in highly specialised sectors such as engineering and aerospace. Many of the current senior managers at such firms started out as apprentices. The unique combination of hands-on work and theoretical knowledge proves to be extremely helpful for personal development and success, the Guardian writes citing BAE Systems education director Richard Hamer.
It is particularly difficult for manufacturing companies to secure the employees they need, Hamer notes. Therefore, an apprenticeship is the perfect way to nurture the talent you require from the very beginning, he adds.
Having realised the importance and positive outcomes of apprenticeships, companies are working together to set vocational training standards that reflect the specific needs of their industry. These sector groups, which have been called Trailblazers, are part of the apprenticeship system reforms the UK government introduced in 2013.
In addition to industry-specific skills, Trailblazers also place great importance on the basic skills employers say they badly need. These include English, maths, IT and verbal communication. Companies are very concerned with the lack of basic skills but acquiring them is much more effective in a working environment, according to Federation of Small Businesses policy director Mick Cherry. Vocational and academic know-how are equally important and it has become clear that apprenticeships can also lay the foundations for career success, Cherry points out.
More and more young people are opting for the vocational route if presented with the choice of a quality apprenticeship, according to PwC student recruitment chief Richard Irwin. Moreover, employers are coming to realise there is no longer any point in juxtaposing university and apprenticeships. It all boils down to the career path a young person wants to pursue, Irwin adds.