16 July, 2019

Early start (March 2014)

06 May, 2014
The rationale behind apprenticeship schemes makes sound sense from so many different vantage points. On the one hand, it’s good for companies who want to ensure they have the right skill sets executed, in part, by a young, highly motivated and enthusiastic workforce, and to nurture this new talent early on in order to ensure as best as possible that the individual concerned will feel a valued part of the business, become attached to its business values and ethos of employee support and therefore want to stay around for the long haul. Apprenticeships are also good for the UK economy in general. After all, with an increasing need for stronger engineering skills to bolster UK manufacturing and engineering both at home and in terms of business ventures oversees, the need for an enthused young workforce is the only sure way of boosting our reputation for engineering excellence globally over the longer term. This journal has often written in encouraging terms about the value of apprenticeships in the world of engineering, even when it sometimes felt a little as if we were swimming upstream. However, some very positive news comes in the form of an announcement by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) that more than double the number of young people are now choosing engineering apprenticeships as degree courses. Figures from the Skills Funding Agency show that in 2012/13, 66,410 young people started an apprenticeship in engineering and manufacturing technologies, more than double the 27,155 young people accepted onto engineering higher education courses in 2013, according to UCAS figures. Overall, in 2012/13, there were 510,200 apprenticeship starts compared to 495,595 accepted places for degree courses in 2013. Nigel Whitehead, BAE Systems’ group managing director, programmes & support, has recently commented that apprenticeship programmes create a pipeline of exceptionally talented young engineers. “In tough economic times it is even more important that businesses plan for the long term and continue to invest in skills and developing talent in the workplace,” he remarked. More good news comes from the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, which points out that UK manufacturing and engineering companies are becoming more dependent on recruitment through apprenticeships to bring young, fresh talent into the sector. The EEF has found that six in ten UK manufacturers have taken on an engineering and manufacturing apprentice in the past 12 months or so. Looking ahead to the next 12 months, the picture is even more encouraging, with over two thirds of manufacturers planning to recruit engineering and manufacturing apprentices into their companies. These findings support previous research conducted by EEF, which showed a growing need within the sector for R&D, design, technical, project management and technician skills. This is primarily due to manufacturers’ strategic outlook to develop new markets, launch new products and new services, and introduce new processes – all of which can only be done with the right workforce. With three-quarters of manufacturers saying they generally recruit apprentices aged between 16 and 18, companies are clearly seeing apprenticeships as a way to boost the pipeline of talent into the industry. These latest research findings marked the start of National Apprenticeship Week, which took place between 3 and 7 March. Now in its seventh year, the week is all about raising the profile of the importance of apprenticeships to the UK economy. Statistics from The Data Service further highlight the importance of apprenticeships within the manufacturing sector, with 66,410 young people beginning an Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Apprenticeship in 2012/13. This represents 13 per cent of all apprenticeships starts. It’s a delight to report such highly encouraging news and these latest findings bode very well for the continued economic wellbeing both of UK Plc in general as well as the manufacturing and engineering industry’s continuing growth and development. Long may this healthy trend continue.

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