27 May, 2022

Train to gain

05 February, 2015

The benefits of apprenticeships cannot be ignored. The advantages to companies are manifold. For example, apprenticeship schemes can be the perfect tool in order to recruit new staff, or to re-train or provide further skilling to existing staff. Apprenticeships can also address the need for specific skills within your business, and ensure you have the right knowhow in place for anticipated future demands. They can also prove to be a perfect method of attracting young people with forward-looking and innovative ideas. Apprenticeships can also be highly effective in boosting morale and retaining a workforce that feels valued and well looked after. Moreover, the advantages to apprentices cannot be underestimated. Young people on this type of scheme can better cultivate a sense of purpose, knowing that they possess skills that will lay a firm foundation for future gainful employment that could sustain them, and stimulate their creative imaginations, throughout their lives. Fortunately, there have continued to be positive messages from UK Government, which would appear to recognise these undeniable benefits. The Government has outlined the next step in apprenticeship reform, making the pledge to give employers direct control of funding for the training of apprentices. Publishing the response to The Future of Apprenticeships in England: Funding Reform Technical Consultation, the Government has outlined its continuing commitment to making England’s apprenticeship system the best in the world. Skills Minister Nick Boles pointed out that December 2014 saw the start of the 2 millionth apprenticeship since 2010. This, he remarked, was an important milestone in the Government’s long-term economic plan. “If we are going improve and expand our apprenticeship programme further we must put employers in the driving seat and give them control of both the design and funding of apprenticeships,” he said. The next step is for Government to work with employer organisations and others to develop a funding model that is, in Boles’ words, “simple, transparent and easy for employers to use”. Boles added that, while putting employers in control of apprenticeship funding is a non-negotiable part of the reforms, it is clear from the feedback received that further detailed design work is needed before there can be a final decision on how this would work in practice. The funding reforms will continue to be developed alongside the trailblazers programme – giving employers control over the design of apprenticeships. Over 1000 employers, of all sizes, are now part of the trailblazers scheme in industries including engineering, legal services and health and social care. In December 2014, 22 new standards were published, with employers leading the design of apprenticeships in data analysis, aircraft maintenance and construction management. As Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills, recently commented, world-class apprenticeship system “is critical to the future prosperity of the UK, so the continued commitment from Government to business leadership is a positive step”. However, he added that the Government and businesses now need to get their heads together to hammer out how the system will actually work. In the current economic climate where many companies have an opportunity to move to the next stage of growth and development, this could be the ideal time to take-on more apprentices. However, as Carberry points out, this can only happen if the system is simple and flexible enough to meet the needs of smaller businesses, not just the larger ones. In the same vein, Dr Adam Marshall, executive director at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), also stresses businesses need greater clarification on how apprenticeship funding will work in future, with a focus on keeping the system simple. He added that, at the same time, they must work to give companies who are ready a greater say in how apprenticeships are designed, delivered and paid for. In essence, UK businesses need crystal clear funding guidance. If this is provided, the potential benefits to individual companies as well as UK Plc cannot be underestimated.

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