National Apprenticeship Week 2014 was a welcome reminder of the tremendous importance of vocational training to businesses, individuals and the economy as a whole. It also highlighted the growing popularity of apprenticeships among companies of all sizes, with employers pledging to create over 20,000 new positions for young people interested in learning on the job and earning money at the same time.
Hundreds of UK firms took the opportunity to unveil plans for apprentice recruitment. Some big companies have committed to creating thousands of new apprentice positions: Lloyds Banking Group, for example, pledged to recruit 5,000 apprentices, while Greene King and Whitbread each announced plans to create 2,000 positions. Other big enterprises making a commitment to apprenticeships included Mitchells & Butlers, Starbucks, EE, Virgin Media and BT. Perhaps even more encouraging is the fact that small and medium-sized enterprises are embracing apprenticeships: 47% of the businesses intent on recruiting apprentices are within that sector.
Commenting on the positive news, Business Secretary Vince Cable said that the government was steadily obliterating the “damaging divide” between vocational training and academic learning. Support for apprenticeships has become a top government priority and two million apprenticeships are set to be created over the course of this parliament.
Cable went on to add that the huge success of National Apprenticeship Week 2014 had confirmed the growing importance of apprenticeships for UK business. It is estimated that apprentices are already making a £1.8 billion contribution to the national economy and the new employer commitments will allow thousands of young Britons to benefit from the career opportunities created by vocational training and help UK companies grow in the process, Cable concluded.