Apprenticeships: An Option For Everyone

For all the attention apprenticeships have been enjoying in recent years, many peopleATG_apprentices_290414 continue to regard them as something less academically inclined youngsters turn to. According to Suzie Webb, director of education at the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), this misconception should be addressed by all stakeholders, most notably the government, training providers and educational institutions. Young Britons need to be given a clear message that there are many reasons to consider an apprenticeship and academic aptitude has nothing to do with it, Webb writes in an article for the Huffington Post.

From a financial point of view, career goals pursued through an apprenticeship will not saddle youngsters with massive debts. Vocational training is becoming all the more attractive as university tuition fees go up. But this is only one benefit of choosing an apprenticeship over academic study. As apprenticeship advocates never tire of stressing, apprentices have the amazing opportunity to gain hands-on work experience, not to mention that they get paid a salary in the process.

It has become clear that a university degree rarely prepares young people for handling the realities of everyday work. With apprenticeships, learners accumulate invaluable first-hand knowledge of their chosen industry, which in turn helps them build confidence and set their professional sights higher, Webb says. Another great thing is that apprenticeships have been embraced by virtually all industries and the variety of roles on offer is impressive. Young people can train for less demanding positions and gradually build on that or opt for a more challenging role. It also needs to be stressed that apprentices are highly valued by employers for their practical skills and most trainees become permanent members of staff at the company that recruited them, Webb adds.

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Why An Apprenticeship Is Worth The Effort

More and more young Britons are coming to realise that a university degree is no longerATG_electrical_150414 a prerequisite for professional success. In fact, numerous studies have demonstrated that this is clearly not the case. Apprenticeships have proved themselves an excellent route to career progression and the government wants to make them the norm for school leavers who decide against academic pursuits. The problem is that access to apprenticeship information leaves a lot to be desired so many youngsters may be missing out on a great opportunity. For those still unsure how an apprenticeship can benefit them, Not Going To Uni recently presented the most important statistics on the subject.

First of all, potential apprenticeship candidates can expect fully funded training if they are aged 16 to 18. They are also entitled to a minimum hourly pay rate of £2.68 and many employers offer higher wages. According to the Apprenticeship Pay Survey, apprentices get £212 net per week on average. Moreover, an apprenticeship will add an extra £100,000 to a person’s lifetime earnings.

There are about 250 different types of apprenticeships young Britons can choose from, mastering both the theoretical and practical aspects of their chosen profession through learning on the job. Successful completion of the training programme can even open the door to a university degree without the associated debt because employers typically cover those costs. And the chances of securing a job are excellent: up to 95% of apprentices remain employed by the company that recruited them for training. This is hardly surprising since 96% of enterprises report that apprenticeships boost their business.

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Former Education Minister Sees Need For Apprenticeship “Revolution”

The UK government is betting on a string of reforms to improve the apprenticeshipATG_revolution_170414 system. But according to Lord Adonis, who served as education minister between 2005 and 2008, the UK needs a “revolution” in apprenticeships, which should include a specific focus on youth apprenticeships and bring about a significant increase both in apprenticeship quality and quantity, the Huffington Post reported.

Lord Adonis made these remarks during a skills debate taking part within the annual conference of the British Chambers of Commerce. Addressing his audience, the former Labour government minister described the number of apprenticeships that are available only for up to 12 months as “unacceptable”. He went on to declare that the system clearly needs a fundamental overhaul, especially in the area of youth apprenticeships. It is not enough to make incremental improvements in quality and quantity: a step change is required, he insisted.

According to Lord Adonis, the government should work alongside schools and employers to address an issue of particular importance, namely the quality of career advice received by students. It definitely leaves a lot to be desired and teachers are generally unable to provide proper guidance on apprenticeships and vocational training. That issue will not be resolved without prompt action and Lord Adonis advocates the introduction of “senior” people whose main responsibility will be maintaining contact with local employers and helping young people secure apprentice positions. UK schools should have people with a keen understanding of the local employment landscape and employers, encouraging the latter to create more apprenticeship opportunities for local youngsters and providing advice to young people, Lord Adonis said.

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68% Of Thames Valley Employers Rank Apprenticeships Above University

Many companies in the Thames Valley region find it hard to recruit young people withATG_apprentices_150414 the right skills. It is therefore hardly surprising that they consider apprenticeships very important for building their talent base, stating that vocational training beats university when it comes to preparing young people for working life.

This has been established through the first Skills, Education and Recruitment Survey in the region. Led by hiring specialist Hays, the poll involved about 100 local enterprises.

The results showed that 58% of employers were primarily driven to recruit in order to grow their business. But finding people with the right skills proves a challenge for 61% of Thames Valley companies. According to 68% of the sample, apprenticeships do a better job than universities at getting young people ready for work life.

Local employers rank attitude as the top criterion for candidate suitability. For 73% of companies, attitude trumps qualifications and experience in the choice of new staff.

Commenting on the survey results, Hays Specialist Recruitment managing director Mark Sheldon said that more and more employers were looking for people with a learning aptitude. Companies are increasingly prioritising a candidate’s ability to learn new skills over their current expertise and experience. Now that the economy has returned to growth, more employment opportunities will be springing up and business organisations will have to work harder to attract and retain employees. Training and skills development should be included in the whole package employers put on offer so that they can build a workforce prepared for the constantly changing business environment, Sheldon added.

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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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Apprenticeships System Needs Focus on Employer Engagement, AELP Chief Says

The government is still is trying to find a way of funding apprenticeships that wouldATG_employer_200314 receive unanimous support from all stakeholders. Its latest consultation includes proposals for a so-called Apprenticeship Credit, which involves direct fund transfer to employers through online bank accounts. The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) sees employer choice in this matter as essential for boosting apprenticeship uptake. Moreover, the organisation believes that driving engagement among employers should be at the heart of any reforms.

This is according to AELP chief executive Stewart Segal, who shared his views in an article for FE News. As Segal points out, the government should focus on improving perceptions and understanding of the apprenticeship system to spur uptake by both employers and young people entering the workforce. There are a number of measures the government can take to achieve these goals.

For starters, understanding would improve significantly if everyone received better career advice and guidance, Segal notes. The AELP also sees the need for a support programme designed to help young people who fail during the apprenticeship application process.

Since employers are a critical link in the apprenticeship chain, the government should make sure the system works in their favour. This could be achieved through a number of actions, among them simpler and more transparent funding rules. Employers should also be able to choose whether they go for a direct contract or partner with a training provider. And it is essential to make it clear to employers that they are free to choose a provider at any stage of the programme, Segal said.

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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 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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Go For It: An Apprentice On Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are finally getting the attention they deserve but the road aheadATG_chalkboard_250214 remains littered with obstacles. Through research reports and expert analyses, we are constantly reminded how important apprenticeships are for ensuring the UK’s talent supply and how they benefit all parties involved. However, the best source of information is apprentices themselves and the companies that employ them. For its Apprentice Of The Week series, the Huffington Post met recently with a young woman in training and got to hear her thoughts on the biggest myths surrounding apprenticeships and her advice for school leavers, among other things.

Georgia Cosma is doing an NVQ Level 4 apprenticeship in project management at Neopost. Talking about some of the persistent myths clinging to apprenticeships, she pointed out that many people remained unaware of how greatly opportunities have expanded. Nowadays, vocational training is no longer confined to manual specialities such as carpentry and building. Young people can now start with an apprenticeship to build fantastic careers in virtually every industry. There is also a widespread misconception about apprentice pay. While the nationally applicable minimum is quite low, it is very rare for employers to pay their apprentices that amount. Most would start an apprentice on the pay scheme for new employees and some actually pay more because they are putting apprentices through graduate programmes.

Georgia is a keen advocate of apprenticeships and advises young people to “go for it.” Some may still be struggling to work out what they want to do and will therefore be at a loss where to start. According to Georgia, business administration or customer service would be a good idea in such cases. An apprenticeship in one of these areas will give trainees a good grasp of all business basics and guide their choice going forward, she said.

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