This article summarises a discussion with employers that train apprentices and their views on the impact of apprenticeships. As well as how people can better encourage and engage with them. The discussion included questions on the impact apprentices have made on businesses, the changes made to accommodate them, the rationale behind employers’ decisions to invest in apprenticeship programmes, initial hesitations, and how these have compared to actual experiences.
- Dan Edwards, General Manager, Marshall Skills Academy
- Robert Leeman, Apprentice Programme Manager, ARM
- Beth Chaudhary, Strategy Director, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education
- Maureen Horan, Assistant Principal, Cambridge Regional College
- Christina Dumitriu Jackson, Laboratory Scientist, Astra Zeneca, and member of the East of England Apprenticeship Ambassador Network
Where does the impact of apprenticeships lie?
The impacts of apprenticeships on individuals and businesses are far-reaching. Below of some of the areas where employers of apprentices feel the impact of apprenticeships lies most.
Rates of return
Apprenticeships give high rates of return in relation to what it costs to invest in them and the quality labour they give back. The exact rates of return are heard to measure and will vary from employee to employee and business to business. However, it is predicted this can be between £2,500-£80,000 back per apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships appeal as an alternative route to traditional forms of higher education. Due to apprenticeships being more accessible to a larger group of people, this often opens up a new pool of workers from different backgrounds and walks of life to employers. This can help drive new forms of perspective, creativity and diversity in the workplace.
Opportunities to new careers
Those studying apprenticeship programmes receive up-to-date training in the skills needed for their industry. This is due to on-the-job learning which means apprentices get practical application of the skills they are learning. This can make apprenticeships great for upskilling in growing and fast-moving industries, such as emerging new markets.
An alternative route of education and way into a career
As mentioned, apprenticeships offer an alternative route to the traditional forms of higher education such as university. As a result, apprenticeships offer a solution and an option to those who haven’t excelled in a classroom. They also offer opportunities for people to learn and be successful in a different way.
Cultural shift in businesses
A combination of the impacts above and other varying factors have led to a general cultural shift in businesses using apprenticeships. Their perceptions are changing and more and more employers and students are seeing their benefits.
The benefits of apprenticeships
Addressing skills shortages
Apprenticeships are a way of accessing and skilling up staff to help the economy which can help to close the skills gaps in different sectors. In addition, apprenticeship programmes provide soft skills training that helps trainees in the working environment. For example, communication skills, time management, resilience, etc. which can help account for a lack of these skills in the post-covid generation.
The nature of Apprenticeship programmes and the different levels between them provide a structured learning and development plan for trainees. This can contribute to internal growth inside an organisation as the structured plan levels staff up through a clear path.
Increased retention rates
Just as structured apprenticeship programmes lead to internal growth, clear goals and a mapped career path with a company can lead to company loyalty and increased retention rates of staff.
Motivated and satisfied workforces
Furthermore, the structure and clear goals of apprenticeship programmes can help to motivate staff. Allowing apprentices to try different roles within a business and to practically apply the new skills they are learning can also help to motivate and satisfy staff.
The majority of apprenticeship programmes are completed by young adults. Hiring apprentices therefore brings new and fresh perspectives and skills into a business. For example, skills in new technologies and other digital knowledge that older employees may not know about.
Social capital value
The full impact of apprenticeships can be hard to evaluate but on the whole, employers report they add to the general social capital of the business due to the nature of learning from their peers and sharing their training across different roles.
Ways to spread information about apprenticeship:
- UCAS have a platform in which 40% of their registrants are interested in more information about apprenticeships. UCAS therefore need to support them with access to the information and resources they need which they have started to introduce
- Schools need to update their views and information about apprenticeships so that teachers can understand and communicate the correct and up-to-date information about them
- Parents also need to be made aware of apprenticeship options and their benefits with correct and up-to-date information. For example, UCAS is offering parent and careers advisors webinars on apprenticeships to help them understand them better
- The best way to share information about apprenticeships to ensure it reaches students is to go through the avenue’s teachers get their information from. This will help to ensure teachers are getting up-to-date information that they can pass on to students and parents. It is important to find the right partners to help get apprenticeship information to students
- Stories from existing apprentices of their experiences and journeys (especially videos) can help spread awareness
- Open days/ information evenings for students as well as parents
- Try to work directly with schools
- The key benefits of apprenticeships
- Apprenticeship Resources
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