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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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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Milton Keynes MP Calls For Greater Emphasis On Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships offer young people the opportunity to make a strong start to theirATG_apprentice_200214 career and vocational qualifications should be given greater emphasis, according to Milton Keynes MP Iain Stewart. For quite a while now, it has been clear that university is not the right choice for all school leavers and they should be provided with information about all the alternatives out there, Stewart said.

The local MP made his comments after touring the Milton Keynes-based National Learning Centre of Volkswagen Group, Business MK reported. The establishment serves as a training base for more than 740 apprentices and prepares VW workers from all over the country. During his visit, Stewart talked to apprentices enrolled in the Advanced Apprenticeship Programme. He was told that 90% on average complete the programme and nearly every successful apprentice gets a job offer from the company.

Stewart said that VW’s apprenticeship programme was an example of what vocational training can offer. Motivated and ambitious young people have too long been led to believe that their only choice is university if they want professional recognition. This is obviously not the case, so young Britons should be familiar with the alternatives. Stewart expressed hope that the promotion of apprenticeships would be given greater focus in the years ahead.

David Sterling, who is in charge of learning services at the VW centre, said that the facility trained more than 20,000 retail staff members every year, apprentices included. The comments made by Stewart come as very welcome recognition for the work done at the centre and the achievements of the apprentices, Sterling added.

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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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EngineeringUK Report Highlights Need For More Effort On Apprenticeship Front

Last year, EngineeringUK called on the industry, government and the wider scienceATG_engineering_300114 community to work together so that the country can ensure its future supply of engineering talent. As part of that drive, the organisation set specific goals to be achieved by 2020, among them doubling the number of young people under 19 doing Level 3 apprenticeships. EngineeringUK has now released a report detailing the progress made so far and it is clear that efforts need to be intensified in certain areas.

With regard to apprenticeships, the objective is to have 37,000 people aged under 19 doing Level 3 vocational qualifications by 2020. In particular, EngineeringUK has called for more youngsters to do advanced apprenticeships in engineering and manufacturing technology, construction planning and ICT (information and communication technology). This is one of the areas where the State of Engineering 2014 report notes a failure to achieve progress so far. In 2011/2012 the number of under-19s doing an engineering-related Level 3 apprenticeship framework declined by 12.2% to 16,280.

On a more positive note, EngineeringUK points out that 250,000 youngsters completing Level 3 apprenticeships in those areas have achieved BTecs, NVQs, VRQs and QCFs. This is an encouraging fact because these vocational qualifications will be of great importance for building the future talent base of the UK engineering sector.

Part of the solution lies with ATG Training who since 1967 have been delivering high quality Engineering Apprenticeships in the Thames Valley. This makes the organisation well placed to serve the skills requirements of the industry with recruitment, staff training and development in key roles.

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27% Of University Graduates Have Lower Income Than Former Apprentices

Many young people have worked hard to get into university, sustained by the hope that ATG_employees_230114their efforts will pay off in the form of enhanced lifetime earnings. This is what politicians usually use as their argument when they want to push more young people towards academic study. However, new figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate that an apprenticeship could prove more valuable for many youngsters. The website Not Going to Uni has done some calculations which show that graduates can end up earning less than employees who have completed an apprenticeship.

According to the ONS research, 27% of university graduates currently earn less than former apprentices. In addition, 26% of lower-paid graduates were found to be doing part-time jobs, while the proportion for employees with an apprenticeship was 11%.

Not Going to Uni delves deeper into the matter, tackling some numbers typically cited by politicians defending their focus on academic study. According to the most popular statistics, a university degree is likely to add some £150,000 to a person’s lifetime earnings. The estimate for those with an apprenticeship on their CV is for an additional £100,000 or more. But there is one major flaw in these popular statistics: they do not take into account the money spent on obtaining a degree. This will cost at least £53,000 and the figure can be much higher for those studying in London. As Not Going to Uni notes, that level of debt erases any advantages a degree may offer in terms of earning power and leaves graduates with lower lifetime earnings than former apprentices.

For more information on Apprenticeships and the current vacancies that exist visit www.atgapprenticeships.com

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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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90.7% Of West Berkshire Youngsters Choose Further Education Or Apprenticeships

West Berkshire stands out as one of the areas in the South East with the highestATG_youngpeople_191213 proportion of 16- and 17-year-olds going into further education or apprenticeships upon leaving school. Among the region’s 3,210 young people, 90.7% have taken one of these routes and some of the credit goes to local employers for providing more apprenticeship opportunities, the Reading Chronicle reports.

According to the latest official statistics, which cover the 12 months to 30 June 2013, the number of West Berkshire youngsters in further education, apprenticeships or learning-based employment rose by 4.1%. Thanks to local employers, 4.5% of young people have become involved in government-backed apprenticeship schemes. This means that West Berkshire has one of the highest apprenticeship rates.

Data for the whole of England shows that 88.4% of 16- and 17-year-olds have opted for further education or vocational training after school. In the South East, the proportion stands at 87.4%.

Irene Neill, executive councillor for education for West Berkshire, said that the ongoing improvement in the area was very good news. The fact that more youngsters are choosing further education and apprenticeships bodes well for West Berkshire’s economic future since such choices will deliver benefits for young people and employers alike. But while the latest statistics are pleasing, local authorities do not intend to rest on their laurels. They will keep working to ensure that all young people have the support they need to pursue their chosen path, be it in further education or apprenticeships, Neill added.

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