Middle Ages To Modern Days: Apprenticeships Have Endured For Good Reason

Industries like engineering and IT have repeatedly raised the alarm on skill shortages, ATG_apprentice_200514which has further stoked efforts to revitalise the apprenticeship system. Given the attention they have received in the past few years, apprenticeships may appear to some people to be a modern invention but the truth is that they have been around since the Middle Ages. This goes to show that the importance of vocational training was acknowledged centuries ago and the practice has endured because of its benefits for both parties. The Daily Gazette has combed through the latest research results to compile a list of what makes apprenticeships so important.

From an employer’s perspective, there are several major benefits. According to 96% of companies with apprenticeship programmes, having trainees on the team boosts morale, improves retention rates and brings new ideas. Moreover, 72% of employers report that apprenticeships help increase productivity. For the UK economy as a whole, apprenticeship completions are expected to deliver productivity gains amounting to £3.4 billion within a decade.

But there would not be such a keen interest on the part of young people if apprenticeships did not benefit them as well. The most important advantage they get is employability: 86% of apprentices secure a job after completing their training, with 67% getting a permanent position at the company that has trained them. There is also the benefit of earning good money while learning the tricks of the trade: many employers pay their apprentices more than the required minimum (currently £2.68 an hour). And with more companies waking up to the importance of on-the-job training, young people can now embark on a career in virtually any sector: their choice encompasses over 250 different types of apprenticeships.

 

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Improvement In Apprenticeship Delivery Lies At Heart Of New Programme

At the start of this week, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) ATG_training_100414announced the launch of a programme designed to improve apprenticeship delivery. Commissioned by the Education and Training Foundation, the Apprenticeship Staff Support Programme (ASSP) will provide £1.5 million in funding to projects that can improve apprenticeship outcomes for both employers and trainees.

Phase One of the programme is already under way and organisations can submit their bids, applying either alone or as part of a consortium, NIACE said. Priority will be given to projects that promote employer involvement in apprenticeship delivery and/or focus on further improvement in curriculum design, teaching, learning and assessment.

The plan is to choose eight to 24 projects in the first phase and distribute up to £717,000 of the total funding pot. If a project turns out to be particularly successful, it will be considered for expansion during Phase Two of the ASSP, which will begin later in the year.

NIACE section director Fiona Aldridge said that apprenticeships had amply demonstrated their importance for the development of vital skills and the provision of support for people to enter work. NIACE is working alongside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to promote further improvement in apprenticeship quality and ensure fair access for every applicant. The launch of the ASSP is the latest step in that direction and a particularly important one in light of current apprenticeship reforms. The programme will advance efforts to tackle skill shortages through high-quality apprenticeships that cater to the needs of all stakeholders, Aldridge added.

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Apprenticeships: An Important Growth Booster For The SME Sector

The biggest names in the corporate world have long relied on apprenticeships, with ATG_apprentice-training2_080414most top engineering and manufacturing companies running apprenticeship programmes. Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, BMW, British Airways, Network Rail – these are just a few examples of corporate heavyweights swearing by apprenticeships. The message has reached the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector but more of its representatives should embrace apprenticeships, making the most of government incentives to nurture talent and drive growth, according to Gary David Smith.

In an article for the Training Journal, the IT entrepreneur points out that this is a great time for SMEs to recruit apprentices. In the latest sign of its commitment to the apprenticeship cause, the government recently announced an extra support package: the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) scheme will receive a further £170 million and another £20 million will be allocated for support of degree-level and post-graduate apprenticeships. This funding, specifically targeted at the SME sector, is expected to help create 100,000 new apprenticeships. The AGE scheme contributed to the creation of 49,300 new apprenticeships between February 2012 and October 2013, with another 15,800 in the planning stage.

According to Smith, the government’s financial incentives are more than welcome but it is also crucial to deliver properly designed apprenticeships. This means that skills training programmes must aim for “the right balance between learning and doing,” as Smith puts it. He also believes that the government should expand the AGE scheme in a way that makes it possible for SMEs to engage with young people while they are still in full-time education.

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Semta Leads Push For Gender Diversity In Engineering Sector

As part of its Budget announcement in March, the UK government pledged to createATG_engineering_030414 100,000 new Apprentices in the SME sector. Semta, the UK sector skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing, wants many of these new Apprenticeships to involve engineering training and half of them to feature women in the role of Apprentice Engineers. Semta is committed to attracting more girls to the engineering profession and believes that a larger proportion of women in the sector will deliver benefits for the entire economy.

As part of its drive to change the status quo, Semta is supporting a number of events across the country. Their aim is to raise the profile of engineering among women and help get more female representatives onto management teams.

Commenting on the initiatives, Semta CEO Sarah Sillars noted that women account for just 22% of the advanced manufacturing and engineering workforce. Within that group, only 9% are women qualified as engineers, scientists or technologists and just 5% hold managerial positions. Given that half of all UK employees are women, these figures demonstrate the wealth of talent waiting to be tapped. If the country is to maintain its position as a world-class manufacturer, this skills pipeline has to be kept flowing, Sillars said.

She went on to add that Semta would be partnering with employers, educators, career advisers and young people throughout the year to reinforce the messages spread by key events such as National Apprenticeship Week and Tomorrow’s Engineers Week. It must become clear that girls are just as good as boys at engineering and more young women should pursue training in that field. If the UK has more female engineers and more women on sector management teams, the ultimate beneficiary will be society as a whole, Sillars stated.

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NAW 2014 Concludes With Promise Of 20,000+ New Apprentice Positions

National Apprenticeship Week 2014 was a welcome reminder of the tremendous ATG_NAW2014_110314importance 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.

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20% Of SMEs Plan Apprentice Recruitment Within 12 Months

It is encouraging during National Apprenticeship Week to see the results of a new studyATG_new-apprentice_040314 among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) concerning their apprenticeship plans. According to the research, 20% of SMEs intend to take on at least one apprentice in the 12 months ahead, while 39% plan to make apprenticeships part of their strategy within five years, Real Business reports.

Conducted by the Institute of Commercial Management, the poll also revealed that 29% of SMEs see apprentice take-up as part of their core growth strategy. In a sign that apprenticeships are becoming more popular, nearly 50% of SMEs said they were now more likely to create apprenticeship positions than two years ago. Moreover, 33% stated that they were ready to take on apprentices because employing them had become easier.

Commenting on the research results, Business Secretary Vince Cable said it was great to see the value of apprenticeships being increasingly recognised by employers. Businesses of all sizes have come to regard apprentices as very important and valued members of their staff.

Cable went on to add that he was immensely proud of the work the current government had done in promoting apprenticeships and the resulting surge in apprentice employment. A key part of the government’s strategy is support for SMEs so it is particularly good to see that the grants made available are spurring apprenticeships in this sector. Apprentice recruitment has now come to be considered a vital element of sustainable growth strategies, Cable concluded.

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Nordson DAGE Apprentice displays exceptional potential

As the global demand for electronic products continues to grow, so to do opportunities

Pictured next to a Diamond X-Ray machine manufactured in Aylesbury:   Neil Pearce, Marc Innes, Ian Harper, Samantha Booth

Pictured next to a Diamond X-Ray machine manufactured in Aylesbury:
Neil Pearce, Marc Innes, Ian Harper, Samantha Booth

for Aylesbury-based firm Nordson DAGE, the market leading provider of award winning test and Inspection systems for destructive and non-destructive mechanical testing and inspection of electronic components. Nordson DAGE is a division of Nordson Corporation (NASDAQ: NDSN).
The Company has expanded its facilities in the UK to better serve its international blue-chip clients, who continue to demand the firm’s high technology products manufactured in Aylesbury and exported around the globe.
With a well developed Apprenticeship scheme, the company has been in a position to offer Apprenticeship places to local young people. Recently Marc Innes joined the organisation in a production capacity having been recognised as a young engineer with exceptional potential.
Marc recently finished his initial Apprenticeship training with ATG Training in Aylesbury in December, and having impressed his training officers, he won an award for his work. This was recognised with a presentation at the offices of Nordson DAGE when Chief Executive of ATG Training – Ian Harper, presented the award to Marc alongside his Production Team Leader – Neil Pearce and HR Generalist – Samantha Booth.
Marc is an ambitious young man and is already manufacturing products under supervision for blue chip international clients. He is already thinking ahead and is considering studying an HNC once the first year of his Apprenticeship training programme is complete.
“I strongly support the Apprenticeship programme here at Nordson DAGE.  The depth of engineering, technology, manufacturing and other experience will hopefully provide Marc with a solid platform for his career.”  Phil Vere, President of Nordson DAGE

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UK Youngsters Need More Apprenticeships, Training To Compete With Migrant Workers

Youth unemployment has become a serious problem for the UK and it may get evenATG_competition_140114 worse now that the job market is fully open to Eastern European migrants. The only way to help young Britons become competitive in the battle for jobs is to ensure that they get high-quality training or are provided with ample apprenticeship opportunities, according to entrepreneur Will Davies.

Davies, head of property maintenance firm Aspect, believes that the government and employers must intensify their efforts to address the problem of youth unemployment. Over a fifth of young Britons under the age of 24 are out of work or not in any training at the moment. This has serious implications for the job prospects of local youngsters because many Eastern Europeans arrive in the country with an apprenticeship on their CV, thus securing an edge over untrained locals, Davies told EN magazine.

The key to making young Britons competitive is betting on apprenticeships and training programmes, the entrepreneur went on to say. Migration is good for the economy of any country but it also raises the bar for local job applicants. Eastern Europeans have built a reputation for their work ethic and this has made its impact on the UK labour force by spurring local workers to improve so that they can compete for jobs. However, UK employers need to do their bit to ensure that local youngsters get access to more apprenticeship and training opportunities. This is the only way they can remain competitive in the job battle with more skilled and experienced migrant workers, Davis concluded.

Commenting on the news a spokesman for Apprenticeship training provider ATG Training pointed to the current opportunities that exist on www.atgapprenticeships.com and the National Apprenticeship Service.

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UK Government Invests £40m In Apprenticeships, Plans Funding Reform

The UK government has revealed plans to invest an extra £40 million to increase theATG_HMTreasury_101213 number of people starting higher apprenticeships, enabling 20,000 more people to develop high-level skills, according the Autumn Statement 2013 published on the government’s website.

At the same time, the government wants to reform apprenticeship funding to allow employers to receive funding towards the cost of training apprentices directly from HM Revenue & Customs.

Employers will be able to claim back the training costs from HMRC, although the delivery method is still unclear and yet to be announced. For now the government is studying three alternatives, namely direct payment into the company’s bank account after apprentices have been enrolled, recovery via the pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) system, and a provider model in which trainers make the claim.

With this move, the government aims to ensure that young people have the skills they need to compete and succeed in the global economy and also to lower the number of youngsters who are not in training, education or employment.

Wine supplier Liberty Wines has been running apprenticeship projects for seven years now but has never sought funding from the state because it was “too prescriptive”, its founder, David Gleave, commented for the Telegraph. He added that any changes intended to make the rules more flexible would be welcome.

Data from Chancellor George Osborne shows that the implementation of advanced level apprenticeships has soared 135% over the last three years which is attributed to the fact that a growing number of businesses are introducing training programmes. Overall, around 1.5 million apprenticeships have been started since 2010.

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Record 870,000 In Apprenticeship Programmes 2012/13

The latest statistical release from the Skills Funding Agency’s Data Service shows that ATG_apprentices_031213the number of apprentices in the UK reached a record high of 870,000 in 2012/13.

Since 2010 there have been 1.5 million apprenticeship starts, of which 500,000 were in the last financial year. On an annual basis the 2012/13 figure represented an increase of 77% on 2009/10, said Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock. Besides, the number of people in higher apprenticeships in 2012/13 was 13,000, a two-fold increase on the previous year, the minister added. This is the highest number since higher apprenticeships were introduced by the government. At the same time, the number of people engaged in advanced level apprenticeships went up by 19% on the year to some 380,000 in 2012/13.

The number of apprentices under the age of 19, however, registered a decrease in the period, resulting from the heightened focus on quality and the fact that now all apprenticeships involve actual jobs and not just training, which raised the performance threshold. The number of new apprenticeship starts has not increased, as a consequence of the fact that the minimum apprenticeship term is now one year. However, the scrapping of six-month programmes was considered essential for raising quality standards.

Hancock expressed hope that an apprenticeship will soon become the usual alternative to university for college and school leavers, something that could be done with a strong focus on the quality that employers look for in apprentices.

Following reforms announced in October, apprenticeships are now much more industry-specific and employer-led, ensuring that the participants have the specific skills needed for the particular industry sector. They are also more rigorous than before in order to ensure the high quality of the qualifications acquired.

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