The start of National Apprenticeship Week 2014 was marked by the release of several research reports highlighting the importance of apprenticeships and their growing popularity among employers. One set of findings came from the UK manufacturers’ association EEF, which has found that local manufacturing and engineering companies are increasingly depending on apprentices to tackle the skills shortage problem, Automation magazine reports.
According to the EEF study, 60% of UK engineering and manufacturing firms have recruited an apprentice in the past year. In further good news, more than two-thirds plan to take on engineering and manufacturing apprentices in the 12 months ahead. With the majority (75%) typically bringing in trainees aged 16 to 18, it is apparent that apprenticeships have become critical for building the country’s future talent base.
Commenting on the findings, EEF apprentice and skills director Peter Winebloom said it was great to see that UK engineering and manufacturing firms are actively recruiting apprentices. It is even more encouraging that this practice is growing in popularity. The looming skills gap is a massive challenge for the sector and apprenticeships can help tackle that problem. Moreover, unless the UK has a sufficient supply of engineering and manufacturing talent it will not be able to realise its economic growth potential.
But apprenticeships are not just a means of injecting fresh blood into the sector, Winebloom added. We should not forget their importance for the young people who choose that road: for them, apprenticeships represent the launch pad to professional development and career growth, he pointed out.