The Year In Apprenticeships: Matthew Hancock’s 2013 Highlights

When it comes to apprenticeships, 2013 can be described as nothing short of a triumph,ATG_hancock_070114 according to Skills Minister Matthew Hancock. In an article for the Huffington Post, he lists the ten most memorable events of the past year, adding that apprenticeships will remain a focal point for the government throughout 2014.

Hancock’s list begins with the tribute paid to apprenticeships in the Queen’s Speech. During the opening of Parliament, Her Majesty stressed the importance of vocational training, saying that the government aimed to make it the norm for young people who choose not to pursue the academic route. Second place on his list goes to the apprenticeship reforms announced in October and the top three is rounded off by National Apprenticeship Week.

In a major boost for apprenticeships, 2013 brought the revelation that young people with a Higher Apprenticeship under their belt are more desirable as employees than university graduates, as established by independent research. Hancock assigned fifth place on his list to the increased focus on raising the profile of apprenticeships among small and medium-sized enterprises and the measures taken to spur apprentice recruitment in that sector.

The number six slot is occupied by the Apprenticeship Awards, which are a regular annual highlight. Hancock also highlighted the launch of traineeships, whose purpose is to prepare young people for an apprenticeship as competition for available positions grows tougher.

Another event included on Hancock’s list is the launch of the Trailblazers programme. By enlisting the help of major companies from various industries, the government has moved to ensure that the apprenticeship reforms will bring the desired results, key among them being the provision of skills highly relevant to employers. In ninth place the minister listed the launch of an online tool supplying information on apprenticeship vacancies.

Hancock wrapped up his list with an event of a personal nature but one that has provided him with invaluable insight into the apprentice experience. The event in question is the Job Swap, which saw Hancock trade places with Apprentice of the Year Jenny Westworth.


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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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Cameron Hails “New Era” For Apprenticeships

With the support of more than 60 major companies, the UK government is ushering in a “newATG_DowningSt_311013 era” for apprenticeships, Prime Minister David Cameron said this week during a meeting with over 500 young people. In addition to reforms that will ensure the highest possible quality of apprenticeship programmes, the country’s leading companies have committed to providing thousands of new vocational training schemes. The aim is to create 100,000 work training opportunities within two years, greatly advancing efforts to tackle youth unemployment.

The apprenticeship reforms, spurred by the Richard Review of the existing system, are designed to make vocational training a worthy rival to higher and further education through accentuating academic rigour, Cameron said. In the future, the minimum length of an apprenticeship will be one year. Going forward, employers will have the main say, with apprenticeship standards based on their specific skill needs. The new system will also be greatly simplified, meaning that the new standards will describe the skills and knowledge required by an occupation concisely and in simple language.

In order to ensure the highest quality, the new apprenticeship system will involve strict independent assessment of apprentices, as well as a more rigorous academic assessment through stricter requirements for maths and English results. This will serve to evaluate the competence of a candidate. In addition, apprentices will get a pass, merit or distinction grade, which will align the system with that of full-time education.

According to Cameron, the new apprenticeship system should start operating at the end of next year. The objective is to have the new standards applying to all new apprentices from 2017, the PM added.

Welcoming the change spokesman Stephen Smyth said: ‘Having been providing rigorous Engineering Apprenticeships since 1967, ATG Training have always had a minimum duration of 1 year, most however last 3 years and culminate in HNC or HND level qualification. ATG Training are therefore well placed to serve the ‘new era for Apprenticeships’.

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Cable Highlights Value Of Apprenticeships During Visit To Rolls-Royce Festival Stand

Rolls-Royce is one of the jewels in the UK’s manufacturing crown. The company has a long track record of nurturing new talent through its apprenticeship programmes and the wisdom of such a policy was highlighted yesterday by Business Secretary Vince Cable. He stressed the importance of apprenticeships for plugging the skills gap during his visit to the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars stand at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Cable was accompanied by Automotive Council co-chairman Richard Parry-Jones and the EarlATG_Rolls-Royce_160713 of March, founder of the Festival of Speed, automotive information website the Auto Channel reported. He pointed out that the UK’s success in the automotive sector was maintained by its skilled workforce. Rolls-Royce and other leading manufacturers have long recognised how valuable apprenticeships are for ensuring the competitiveness of the UK industry. These are companies that have impressive records of giving young people a strong start on their career journeys. Apprenticeships will help the automotive industry secure its future talent and the Automotive Council expects to create an additional 7,600 apprenticeships in the next five years. Efforts to eliminate the skills shortage also include the improvement of existing and future training programmes, Cable added.

Torsten Mueller-Otvos, chief executive of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said that the company was extremely pleased to be recognised as a manufacturing success story. It was also very happy to hear Cable’s positive comments about the apprenticeship and graduate programmes run by Rolls-Royce, Mueller-Otvos added.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars launched its apprenticeship programme in 2006. As part of the scheme, young people between the ages of 16 and 24 get the opportunity to learn valuable skills and lay the foundations of a rewarding career.

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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

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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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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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Online Apprenticeship Applications, Vacancies Hit New Highs

The number of apprenticeship applications filed online and that of vacancies posted reachedOnline Applications record levels in the period between February and April, the latest data from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) reveals. The total number of applications grew by 32.5% year-on-year, while the number of vacancies increased by 14.8%.

As many as 368,830 applications were submitted over the Internet during the third quarter of the 2012/2013 academic year as opposed to 278,410 in the same period a year earlier. As for vacancies advertised online, their number went up from 28,396 to 32,604. Candidates were at their most active in the immediate aftermath of National Apprenticeship Week, making 18 March the busiest day for filing. On that day apprenticeship hopefuls submitted 6,730 applications. Regarding vacancies, the highest number posted online in a single day was 17,700 and this happened on 26 April.

There was no change in the top three when it came to sectors attracting the biggest number of applications. As was the case a year earlier, Business and Administration was first with 101,510 applications, followed by Childcare and Customer Services with 29,020 and 26,200 respectively. The number of vacancies advertised was also the highest for Business and Administration (7,702) but Customer Services overtook Childcare on that count (2,700 versus 1,991).

Commenting on the latest NAS figures, Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said that apprenticeships were increasingly perceived by young Britons as an excellent alternative to a university degree. School leavers are quickly grasping the potential of an apprenticeship to help them realise their career ambitions. The government is working tirelessly alongside the NAS to promote the apprenticeship cause, encouraging more employers to take on apprentices and reap the associated benefits, Hancock added.


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HLAs Draw Ambitious School Leavers

People generally assume that the cream of the school-leaving crop will head towardsATG Training Apprentices university, putting in a few more years of study to obtain a degree. However, a growing number of school leavers are opting instead for an apprenticeship, not least because of the increase in tuition fees, the Guardian reports.

But tuition costs are only part of the reason for this choice. More school leavers are coming to realise that an apprenticeship, especially a higher level apprenticeship (HLA), can be just as useful as a degree, sometimes more so. Students going for HLAs get the equivalent of degree-level qualifications and invaluable work experience in addition to earning money during their training.

Sophie Dalby is one of the academic high-flyers who have chosen an apprenticeship over university. She received offers from five universities but decided to take up an accountancy apprenticeship. As Sophie told the Guardian, she will be fully qualified by the age of 23 and will not have the burden of fees. In addition, she will be acquiring skills that are in demand by employers.

The government has put apprenticeships high on its agenda and invested some £1.5 billion in various initiatives during the past year alone. This has created more opportunities for young Britons and the choice of sectors keeps rising. In 2012 the number of HLAs on offer shot up to 3,700, an increase of 67.5% from the prior year. This year school leavers will be able to choose from HLAs across 41 subject areas, the Guardian added.


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Semta CEO Urges Employers To Tackle Skills Shortage

Taking on apprentices and recruiting graduates are both great ways of addressing the skillsATG Training Apprentice Engineer shortage in engineering and manufacturing but UK companies need to do more, according to Semta chief executive Sarah Sillars. Employers also have to invest in improving the skills of existing employees and help spread the word about the excellent career opportunities available in the sector, Sillars was quoted as saying by The Journal.

Since it is exam season, our attention is focused on how young Britons are doing and what their future plans involve. Sillars urged those graduating in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects to think about an engineering or advanced manufacturing career. She noted that there were amazing opportunities for young people considering further education but prospects in the sector were also fantastic for those with no university plans. Boys and girls with five GCSEs (among them maths and science) can lay the foundations of a great career by opting for an apprenticeship. This will allow them to earn money, learn on the job and pave the way to excellent long-term prospects.

Sillars went on to add that Semta’s research painted a bleak picture for the future engineering and manufacturing talent base. By 2017 the sector will lose 8,500 employees to retirement and 15,000 need to improve their skills. According to the 2013 Harvey Nash Manufacturing Leadership survey, 62% of executives consider their companies woefully short of skills. Not only can apprentices help close the gap but they also tend to make more loyal employees, Sillars noted, citing a study by the National Apprenticeship Service. According to that research, 74% of employers believe apprentices to be more loyal than non-apprentices. In addition, 92% stated that their training programmes improved staff motivation and boosted job satisfaction levels.

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