Faringdon Youngsters Bet On Apprenticeships To Realise Engineering Dream

UK employers and industry organisations use every opportunity to sound the alarm over theATG_design1_301013 impending shortage of engineering skills. The government is hoping that apprenticeships will provide a solution to the problem and numerous efforts are being made to raise their profile among young Britons. Sometimes youngsters do not need any help to realise that the best route to their desired profession is an apprenticeship. This is the case with two 18-year-olds in Faringdon, Oxfordshire, who have opted for vocational training over university in pursuit of their engineering dreams, the Oxford Times has reported.

The two youngsters are Patrick Andrews and Jake Thompson, who have begun their apprenticeships at engineering and building consultancy QODA Consulting. Jake has previously worked on assorted Tower of London projects, while Patrick has contributed to plans for a Gloucestershire biomass energy centre.

Commenting on his decision, Jake said that an apprenticeship offered him the opportunity to get hands-on experience in the field he had chosen. Jake noted that engineering had always held an attraction for him but since school-based learning had never been his thing, vocational training provided him with the perfect solution. He also said that a university course would have given him far less knowledge than his training on the job.

ATG_design2_301013Patrick listed several reasons that had made him choose an apprenticeship over university. The training he receives will pave the way for a sponsored degree but that is only one of the advantages. The young man noted that he was secure in the knowledge that he had a paid job and would end up with practical experience that a university degree could not bestow.

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Can Labour’s Apprenticeship Plan Boost The Domestic Skills Base?

Ed Miliband has garnered lots of media attention with his plan to promote high-qualityATG_EdMiliband1_081013 apprenticeships and help the UK maintain its skills base. At the recent Labour Party conference, the party leader outlined a policy under which UK employers would be required to take on an apprentice for every non-EU worker joining their staff. Last week, The Engineer published the findings of its reader poll on Labour’s plan, revealing a mixed attitude towards the idea.

Miliband’s policy envisions the recruitment of an apprentice for every Tier 2 non-EU immigrant employed by a UK company. These are foreigners admitted into the country because of their highly valuable skills. By providing an apprentice with equivalent skills, UK employers would ensure the availability of highly skilled workers for the UK economy, Miliband claims.

So how do readers of The Engineer feel about this balancing act? According to 44% of them, the policy would have no impact because it would only apply to non-EU workers, while 39% expressed the belief that it would have a positive effect on the domestic skills base. For 16% of the sample, the plan raises concerns that local employers would be put off recruiting foreign talent, thus negatively affecting a skills base that relies on overseas workers.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is among the industry organisations that believe there are better ways of promoting apprenticeships and helping the UK nurture its future talent. According to the BCC, better results would be achieved by offering apprentice employers financial incentives and urging schools to give greater attention to work skills, The Engineer said.

Spokesman for  a provider of Apprenticeships, ATG Training commenting said ‘Policy matters have major impacts on the training market and any proposed changes need to be fully debated, with industry SME’s having a key role in the future economic output of Great Britain PLC’.

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Young People Need Greater Awareness Of Apprenticeship Opportunities

A-level results are out and young Brits are preparing for life after school, which for most ATG_youngpeople_200813 involves either getting a job or pursuing a university degree. There is also the option to combine work and further study through an apprenticeship programme and 55% say they would consider this route. The problem is that most young people between the ages of 14 and 25 are unaware of the wide range of opportunities available for the apprenticeship-minded, Online Recruitment magazine reports on its website.

Companies of all sizes are embracing apprenticeships and new sectors are joining the list of enthusiastic recruiters but young people know little about it, according to the latest Barclays LifeSkills Barometer. Manufacturing firms and retailers have long established themselves as top apprentice employers and youngsters are aware of that, with 69% and 44% respectively stating so. However, the situation looks quite different when it comes to awareness about apprenticeship opportunities in other sectors. Hospitality and leisure companies, for example, are some of the best apprentice recruiters and 44% of them plan to take on apprentices this year. However, 56% of young people have no idea that apprenticeships can give them entry into these sectors. Only 33% said they were aware of newer qualifications in the travel sector, while the respective proportions for healthcare and insurance were even lower at 25% and 24%.

According to Mike Thompson, the person in charge of Barclays’ employability programmes, the number and breadth of apprenticeships on offer is fantastic news for school leavers. However, it is clear that employers and education providers must join forces to increase awareness among young people and inform them of ways to access those opportunities, Thompson added.

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Hancock Details Vocational Education Reforms In Letter To FE Sector

The UK government is introducing a swathe of reforms to vocational training to align it withATG_businesstraining_080813 the needs of employers and learners. The ultimate goal of the changes is to prepare young people for life and employment and ensure that the country has the skilled workforce it needs. At the end of July, Skills Minister Matthew Hancock set out the details in a letter sent to further education (FE) stakeholders. It came with an annex listing the reforms that will take place by 2015.

As of next month, there will be changes in the funding and content of study programmes to reflect the fact that young people now have to remain in education or training until 17. This means finishing the academic year during which they reach that age. Funding for study programmes will be provided on a ‘per student’ basis, enabling youngsters to pursue courses that open the door to further technical or academic study, an apprenticeship, a job or work-based training. This year will also see changes in post-16 work experience, the introduction of traineeships and supported internships for 16 to 24 year olds and people with learning difficulties aged 16 to 25 and new requirements for English and Maths qualifications.

The study programmes will also provide the foundation for Tech Levels. As Hancock announced early in July, those aged 16 to 19 will be given the opportunity to do a course that gives them qualifications recognised by employers and higher education institutions. This reform will be introduced in September 2014. Successful completion of Tech Level qualifications followed by a Level 3 Core Maths qualification and an Extended Project will put the students on a par with Technical Baccalaureate holders. The government is also working on reforms to Level 2 qualifications for 16 to 19 year olds.

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Engineering Skills Shortage Looms Large For UK Employers

With many Engineering Apprenticeship roles available at www.atgapprenticeships.com and talented young people currently seeking their future roles, Marketing Manager Stephen Smyth saw this topical article. 

The UK economy appears to have embarked on the road to recovery and manufacturing is picking up steam but the shortage of engineering talent poses a threat to sustained growth. While a large number of young Britons come out of university with engineering qualifications,ATG_engineering_230713 only a small proportion of them go into full-time employment as engineers and some companies find that their recruits do not have the particular skills set required. As demand for engineers keeps growing, apprenticeships have become one way of solving the problem although a concerted effort is required to promote the profession among young people and raise the standards of training, according to an article in E&T Magazine.

The challenge facing employers was highlighted in the latest annual report published by EngineeringUK. The organisation estimates that the sector will need 87,000 new workers with engineering skills every year through to 2020. University graduates cannot meet that demand since their number stands at around 46,000 per year. As a result, the government, employers and industry bodies are turning their attention to engineering apprenticeships. Semta, the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies, has supported the creation of new apprenticeships in the sector, helping to lift their number from 1,035 in 2011/2012 to 1,393 by this April. Bill Twigg, apprenticeship director at Semta, said that a growing number of companies were coming to recognise the benefit of apprenticeships and setting up training programmes.

One of the main problems is making an engineering career attractive to UK youngsters and encouraging them to study the required technical subjects. Among the initiatives designed to achieve this are the Big Bang Fair, Make It In Great Britain and Tomorrow’s Engineers. Another key issue is developing training programmes that are demand-led, meaning that they teach the skills employers really need, the article pointed out.

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Unilever Executive Praises Benefits Of Apprenticeships

Unilever is one of those companies that people come in touch with every day. The consumerATG_Unilever_120713 goods giant has built a portfolio of more than 400 brands, among them Dove, Lipton, Ben & Jerry’s, Domestos, Knorr and Axe. What some may not know is that the company is a great believer in apprenticeships and its UK division recently took on 20 apprentices in business administration and IT. While Unilever UK is keen to help address the problem of youth unemployment, it is also convinced that apprenticeships deliver amazing benefits for businesses and that apprentices are great employees, Apprentice Eye reported this week.

The website cited Tim Munden, HR vice-president for Unilever UK & Ireland. According to Munden, apprenticeships benefit both companies and the wider economy. Unilever’s experience has shown that the young people enrolling in its apprenticeship programmes are talented, ambitious and loyal workers. This means that apprenticeships provide employers with a great opportunity to build their future talent base. They are particularly helpful in areas where skills are in short supply.

Munden went on to add that Unilever UK wanted to contribute to reviving the UK economy and helping a “lost generation” enter the national workforce. Youth unemployment is among the top challenges to ensuring sustainable livelihoods. People who remain unemployed for an extended period in their youth have worse job prospects later in life. Apprenticeships are a great way to kill two birds with one stone: give young people a good start in their career journey and secure the nation’s future talent base, Munden said.

Commenting on this story, Stephen Smyth spokesman for #Apprentice Training provider ATG Training said: This is the time of year when young people’s thoughts turn to the future as they anxiously await their exam results.  For many, going to uni seems to be the only option available.  But today, apprenticeships are serious contenders when it comes to choosing a career, and there is a wealth of opportunities available which can be seen on the Apprenticeship Vacancies site www.atgapprenticeships.com.

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Skills Summit Participants Highlight Importance Of Apprenticeships

Stephen Smyth, spokesman for the Engineering Apprentice Training provider ATG Training noticed this article reporting on the skills summit.

Late in June, London played host to a skills summit for high-growth sectors. Representatives ofATG_engineeringtraining_040713 government and industry organisations and companies from the technology, engineering, life sciences and creative sectors came together to discuss skills development and its importance for the future economic growth of the UK. Among the summit participants was the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), which demonstrated its commitment to skills development by announcing new higher and advanced level apprenticeships.

Commenting on the new programmes, REC chief executive Kevin Green pointed out that a key economic challenge was the gap between the skills employers need and those offered by jobseekers. Apprenticeships represent an excellent way to set young Britons on a career course in sectors where fresh talent is needed, recruitment being one such sector, Green added.

The importance of apprenticeships was also highlighted by executives of other major trade bodies. Among them was Rob Wall, who is in charge of education and employment policy at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Wall said that the country needed more high quality apprenticeships, especially higher level apprenticeships. They are crucial for improving the skills of the UK workforce and ensuring the future competitiveness of the UK economy.

Similar comments were made by Peter Cheese, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He described apprenticeships as a viable alternative to higher education and noted that they are becoming increasingly recognised and important. For the benefit of young people and the UK economy, all industries should embrace apprenticeships and implement policies that encourage school leavers to become apprentices, Cheese stated.

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Lord Adonis Sees Apprenticeship Reforms As Critical For Tackling Youth Unemployment

Youth unemployment is a pan-European issue but what statistical reports often fail to mention isATG_jobcentre_020713 that age has little to do with it. It is lack of skills that prevents most young people from getting a job and Germany proves that point. Europe’s leading economy has a youth unemployment rate of only 7.5% versus more than 15% for the UK, the primary reason being its excellent apprenticeship system. If the UK wants to tackle its youth unemployment problem it should follow the example of Germany, providing training opportunities for school leavers but also reforming its apprenticeship system, according to Lord Adonis.

In an article for the Guardian, the education minister in the Blair-Brown government admits that even the administration he served continued the decades-long tradition of promoting higher education at the expense of apprenticeships and technical training. Lord Adonis believes that reforms should focus on three key areas, changing the apprenticeship system from top to bottom.

To begin with, public and private sector employers should offer far more apprenticeships and receive government funding for that. Only a third of large enterprises and a tenth of small businesses run apprenticeship programmes and the public sector is not doing any better. The department in charge of apprenticeships employs 2,500 people but has only one apprentice aged under 21, which is anything but leading by example, Lord Adonis notes.

The second key reform must focus on improving apprenticeship quality. This includes the introduction of proper competence tests and grading upon training completion. Germany should serve as an example here as well: its apprentices take a final exam in a vocational school plus an oral exam and a practical test at work. According to Lord Adonis, the UK should introduce the same rules.

Finally, there is a dire need to improve information about apprenticeships. The National Apprenticeship Service does some advertising nationwide but nothing comparable to what the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) does for higher education. Aside from being a clearing house for higher education places, UCAS should engage in clearing for apprenticeships, Lord Adonis concludes.

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Boris Johnson Doubles Apprenticeship Incentive for London SMEs

London Mayor Boris Johnson aims to bolster the uptake of apprenticeships by small andATG_BorisJohnson_180613 medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the capital by doubling the grant normally available to employers recruiting an apprentice. Johnson has set aside £1.5 million for that purpose in a move that could help a thousand young people join apprenticeship programmes at London companies, notgoingtouni.co.uk has reported.

Companies taking on an apprentice typically receive an incentive payment amounting to £1,500. However, Johnson is offering SMEs £3,000 as part of his campaign to create more employment opportunities for young Londoners. Johnson recently provided further evidence of his support for apprenticeships by launching a scheme that allows apprentices to reduce their London travel costs by as much as 30%.

As a result of Johnson’s work with the National Apprenticeship Service, the number of apprenticeships created in the capital since 2010 has exceeded 100,000. The mayor has set himself the goal of lifting that number to 250,000 by the end of 2016.

Commenting on the latest initiative, Johnson pointed out that SMEs were the backbone of London’s economy and a key provider of employment opportunities for local young people. Businesses that have recruited apprentices are already aware of the benefits to be had, including a boost to profitability. The aim is to encourage more companies to join the apprenticeship push. The latest incentive is targeted at SMEs, and business owners from all over London should grab the opportunity it presents. As they reap the benefits associated with apprentices, local SMEs will also help drive the wider London economy, Johnson added.

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Opening Doors Campaign Seeks To Level Playing Field For Young Job Seekers

UK companies of all sizes are being called upon to make jobs available to young peopleATG Apprenticeships from all walks of life. This appeal is at the core of the Opening Doors campaign launched by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who has partnered with entrepreneur James Caan for the initiative. The aim is to ensure fair and open access to job opportunities for all talented young Britons, helping them on the way to their chosen career through the provision of work experience, internships and apprenticeships.

Reporting the news on its website, the National Apprenticeship Service said that more than 150 major UK companies had already joined the initiative. They have pledged to open their doors to any deserving young person regardless of his or her social background. As part of the campaign, Clegg has also asked Caan to set up the Opening Doors Award. Caan will do that together with Peter Searle, chief executive of leading UK recruiter Adecco Group. Caan and Searle will act as judges and the awards will be handed out later this year, recognising companies that have done exceptional work in levelling the playing field for all young Britons in search of work opportunities.

Judging by the findings of a YouGov survey, Opening Doors is definitely needed. Conducted for the campaign, the research produced results indicating that young Britons from underprivileged backgrounds find it harder to access work opportunities in the industry of their choice. Among representatives of higher social grades, 33% of people aged 16 to 25 said they were already working in their chosen industry. However, this applied to only 5% of young Brits in lower social grades.

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