UK Apprentices Get Their Own Support Platform

Apprenticeships have garnered much attention in the past few years, becoming a focal ATG_apprentices_010514point for the government in its efforts to combat youth unemployment and promote skills development. But while employers and training providers are spreading the message through their professional organisations, apprentices have so far lacked their own platform for support and representation. This has changed with the launch of the National Society of Apprentices (NSA).

The newly created organisation has already attracted as members over 100 employers, training providers and colleges in addition to more than 100,000 apprentices.

Siobhan Knott, member of the NSA interim leadership team, said that the national society constituted a major step towards raising the profile of apprentices and ensuring they get the respect they deserve. Through the Apprentice Exchange group and forum, young Britons in vocational training can make new acquaintances, swap ideas and make their voices heard. The NSA provides the sense of community apprentices across the country have lacked so far, Knott added.

As Not Going To Uni reports, the NSA came into existence in February. It was created with the aim of supporting apprentices, giving their views national representation and promoting apprentice rights. The society also intends to shine a light on apprentices’ contribution to their communities.

The NSA has been around for only a short time but it has already championed several important initiatives. In Northern Ireland it helped apprentices get together with decision-makers and discuss their future vision for apprenticeships. In Wales it supported the launch of a research project dealing with trainee travel costs. In addition, the NSA organised a trip to Finland for apprentices from Leeds and Doncaster, providing them with opportunity to see how the Nordic country’s apprenticeship system works.

 

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A Look Back At NAW 2014: The Biggest Success So Far

The National Apprenticeship Service has expressed its gratitude to all the people andATG_apprentice_130314 organisations that helped make National Apprenticeship Week 2014 a resounding success. The seventh annual celebration ran under the theme “Great Apprenticeships,” with more than 1,100 events showcasing the benefits of apprenticeships for businesses, individuals and the national economy.

Skills Funding Agency chief executive Barbara Spicer said that NAW 2014 had turned into the most successful one so far. It highlighted the extraordinary achievements of both apprentices and employers and provided inspiration for more people and organisations. In a clear sign that apprenticeships are steadily growing in popularity, NAW 2014 wrapped up with the promise of more than 20,000 new apprentice positions. Compared to the commitments made last year, this represents an increase of over 40%. Even more encouraging is the fact that 47% of these positions were pledged by small and medium-sized enterprises.

Through social networks, Twitter in particular, word of NAW 2014 was spread by a number of very high-profile individuals. The campaign received more than 57,000 mentions on Twitter, getting support from the likes of Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson.

In a fitting finale for the grand celebration, the last day of NAW 2014 saw the Royal Opera House in London become the stage for the International Apprenticeships Conference. The aim of this event was to discuss the future of apprenticeships and to exchange ideas. Given the increasingly globalised economy, the participants examined trends unfolding on a global scale, with discussions centred on worldwide developments and apprenticeship opportunities created in emerging economies.

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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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NAW 2014 Starts On Monday

Over the course of next week the UK will be celebrating apprenticeships and their ATG_NAW2014_270214immense contribution to companies, individuals and the overall economy. National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) will run between 3rd and 7th March and will recognise the best among apprentices and employers, at the same time seeking to raise awareness about the importance and benefits of apprenticeships.

This will be seventh year of NAW and the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) aims to achieve several things through a host of events. One objective is to raise awareness about apprenticeships and promote demand for them. And since inspiration often comes from great role models, the NAW will highlight the achievements of apprentices and employers through its annual awards. They will draw attention to the talent and skills of apprentices and their contribution to company successes. The NAS also aims to promote all levels of apprenticeships, including traineeships.

NAW 2014 will run under the theme “Great Apprenticeships.” As the NAS points out, apprentices help build “Great Businesses”, while apprenticeships create “Great Prospects.” This year’s theme reflects a desire to demonstrate that apprenticeships benefit both employers and their young trainees, opening up opportunities for business growth and career advancement.

Support from the media is particularly important for spreading the apprenticeship message. Wide media coverage will make it possible to reach more businesses and students and educate them about the benefits of apprenticeships. In addition, it will help get the word to teachers and parents, whose support is of tremendous importance for young people when they make decisions about their future.

Thames Valley based ATG Training has supported National Apprenticeship Week since its inception and next week will be at events in Oxford, Banbury, Northampton and Witney, to provide appropriate support and guidance to employers and students.

Look out for the hash tag #NAW2014 on social media platforms for news as it happens.

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NAS Quarterly Index Reveals 24% Rise In Apprenticeship Vacancies

The latest vacancy data published by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) showsATG_applying-online_110214 that apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular among both employers and young people. The report also reveals that female candidates have been steadily growing in number over the past couple of years.

During the August-October 2013 period, which corresponds to the first quarter of the 2013/2014 academic year, the Apprenticeship Index showed a 24% year-on-year jump in online apprenticeship vacancies. This means that their number went up from 30,230 in the corresponding quarter of 2012 to 37,410. However, the number of applications surged by 43% to 461,530, as a result of which the government is calling on employers to address the demand by creating more apprenticeship positions.

During the period under report, online applications from female candidates reached 216,100, which amounts to an increase of 55% on the year. This trend has helped narrow the gender gap: 47% of apprenticeship applications submitted in 2013 came from female candidates compared to 43% in the preceding year.

The biggest overall increase in vacancies was recorded for Higher Apprenticeships, where the number shot up by 41% year-on-year. The respective growth rates for Advanced Apprenticeship and Intermediate Apprenticeship vacancies were 32% and 19%. The data analysis by region showed that apprenticeship vacancies registered the biggest increase in Yorkshire and The Humber and in the South East – 38%. The East Midlands came second with an increase of 37% and the South West ranked third with 29%.

As for growth in apprenticeship applications, the North East topped the rankings with a 60% surge, which took the number to 33,430. Yorkshire and The Humber and the South West came next with 59% and 58% respectively. Competition was at its strongest in London and the North East, where 18 candidates on average vied for each advertised position.

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Common Misconceptions That Keep Youngsters Away From Apprenticeships

More and more UK school leavers are becoming aware that university is not the rightATG_youngapprentice_040214 path for them. However, they have limited information about their alternatives, most notably apprenticeships. Vocational training is considered crucial for building the UK’s future talent base but how can young people be expected to go for that if they don’t have enough information? This issue was the subject of a recent Guardian Professional article, which explored the most common myths about apprenticeships and dispelled them by highlighting the key facts.

To youngsters worried about not having a real job, author Hannah Friend explains that most apprenticeships are actually a full-time occupation. Guidance provided by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) states that apprentices must work a minimum of 30 hours a week, which is slightly less than the 37.5 hours required under regular contracts. Moreover, the minimum duration of an apprenticeship must be 12 months but many programmes stretch for up to four years.

Many young people also fear that an apprenticeship does not offer them security. However, their contract will typically give them all rights enjoyed by other employees, as well as the same employment and career progress opportunities.

Another common myth has to do with the affordability of apprenticeships but school leavers have nothing to worry about on that count: the training costs are covered by the government and employers. As for low pay, that is also a common misconception. The minimum starts at £2.68 per hour but the amount grows over time and research has found that the average apprentice earns a net £200 weekly.

Another myth stopping youngsters from pursuing the apprenticeship route is the erroneous belief that their job prospects will not be improved. This is definitely not the case and numerous studies have provided proof to the contrary. According to recent research by the Office for National Statistics, 85% of apprentices stay in employment and 64% get a job at the company where they completed their training.

Many youngsters also labour under the misconception that an apprenticeship will leave them without a qualification. Depending on the programme they choose (intermediate, advanced or higher), they can finish their training with a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ); a Functional Skills qualification, a technical certificate, a Higher National Diploma (HND) or a foundation degree.

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Search Is Formally On For UK’s Best Apprentices, Employers

The National Apprenticeship Awards opened for entries at the start of this week (3 APP_Logo_Col_5185February), formally launching the search for the best UK apprentices and apprentice employers. The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), which runs the awards, said that nominations would be accepted until 28 March 2014.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock highlighted the critical importance of apprenticeships for fostering ambition and helping people build rewarding careers. Apprenticeships also promote competitiveness and drive economic growth. The National Apprenticeship Awards offer apprentices and employers the opportunity to receive their due recognition, not least because of the example they set for other young people and business organisations, Hancock added.

One young person determined to be a worthy role model and help raise the profile of apprenticeships is Chloe Gains. A former IT apprentice at Barclays, Chloe snatched the 2013 title of City & Guilds National Apprenticeship Champion. She pointed out that her apprenticeship had opened amazing career opportunities for her and she was now keen to bring the word to other young people across the country.

Birmingham-based Walter Smith Fine Foods, which was recognised in 2013 as Nuclear Decommissioning Site Licence Companies Medium Employer of the Year, is also full of praise for apprenticeships. Company HR director Paul Cadman said that apprenticeships had delivered numerous benefits to the business. Training young people allows Walter Smith Fine Foods to ensure that its staff have the right skills for the business. Cadman also noted that all shop managers were former company apprentices, which is proof that hard work and ambition pay off even without a university degree.

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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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Team Challenge Brings Together More Than 1,000 Apprentices

Over 1,000 apprentices grouped in more than 110 teams are taking part in the 2014APP_Logo_Col_5185 Brathay Apprentice Challenge. The third year of the Brathay Trust competition will see the nine-member teams battle for the Apprentice Team of the Year award.

The news was posted on the website of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), which sponsors the contest. The apprentices hail from various industries and represent both leading companies and small and medium-sized enterprises. Among the high-profile employers involved in the battle are British Airways, HSBC, Nestle, PwC and Virgin Media. The respective winners in 2012 and 2013, Innovia Films and Cobham, are also taking part in the competition.

The teams will engage in various activities to raise the profile of apprenticeships, spreading the word through school visits, interviews and social media campaigns, the NAS said. Each team will also get busy on a local community project before the end of March. The names of the finalists will become known in April and they will then compete in other activities before the national finals in June.

According to Skills Minister Matthew Hancock, the diversity of the participating teams closely mirrors the diversity of apprenticeships that are now available to young people. It is also testament to the commitment of the biggest UK employers to apprenticeships, Hancock noted. It has become obvious that businesses of all sizes can benefit from hiring apprentices; in this way, they can build their own talent base by focusing on the skills they need and developing motivated, qualified workers, the minister added.

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Three Apprentices, Five Companies Grab National Apprenticeship Awards

The winners of the National Apprenticeship Awards were announced on Thursday at anAPP_Logo_Col_CMYK event in the company of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Three apprentices and five employers, as well as a former apprentice, won the prizes in nine categories in this tenth year of the awards.

Clegg said that the government had succeeded in creating one and a half million new apprenticeships and among the factors that helped was events like the National Apprenticeship Awards as well as the willingness of businesses to give apprentices a chance.

In the Learndirect Intermediate Level Apprentice of the Year category the winner was Lydia Webster, working for Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust in Truro. The Excellence, Achievement & Learning (EAL) Advanced Level Apprentice of the Year award went to Sadie Hawkins from IBM United Kingdom in Winchester. The prize in the Unilever Higher Apprentice Apprentice of the Year category was won by Jessica Kirby from Cirkle Communications in Beaconsfield and the City & Guilds Apprenticeship Champion of the Year was Chloe Gailes from Barclays Bank in Knutsford.

In the employer categories, the Livity Macro Employer of the Year (5000+ employees) prize went to BT and the award for BAE Systems Large Employer of the Year (250-4,999 employees) was grabbed by BAM Nutall Ltd, based in Camberley. The Medium Employer of the Year (25-249 employees) award, sponsored by the Nuclear Decommissioning Site Licence Companies, went to Walter Smith Fine Foods from Birmingham and the Jaguar Land Rover-sponsored Small Employer of the Year prize went to Fairfield Control Systems from Newark. The Investors in People award for Apprenticeship Newcomers was handed to HSBC Bank in Birmingham.

 

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