The benefits of apprenticeships

The value of apprenticeships and how businesses can make the most of them.
28 February 2017

We’ve been talking a lot about the value of apprenticeships and how businesses can make the most of them. Of course, having delivered apprenticeships to thousands of people since since the 1970s, it is a topic we have a vested interest in. 

It’s our genuine view that apprenticeships have the power to level out the playing field and reduce educational inequality – which is unfortunately a growing concern. Recent research from The Sutton Trust found that the UK’s achievement gap is significantly larger for children today than it was for those born 40 – 60 years ago.

And, issues relating to education are impacting our nation’s young people – our 2016 ‘World of Good’ research found that failing to succeed in the education system was in the top three worries of the UK’s 16-25 year olds. It’s therefore unsurprising that these worries are leading to a rising number of students reporting declining mental health levels. Unfortunately, these negative experiences are having a lasting impact on how we feel about ourselves – with our recent Eudaimonia report revealing up to a 30% difference in wellbeing scores between those who had had positive and negative experiences of the education system. 

So, how can apprenticeships help solve these issues?

Well, we believe that they can help to bridge the inequality gap by providing those who can’t necessarily afford the burden of going to university (the average student is now coming away with £40,000+ worth of debt!) the same opportunities as their university-attending peers. Giving students the chance to earn as they learn, apprenticeships can be a perfect solution for those from lower-income backgrounds or those who can’t afford not to work full-time to support themselves or their families. 

Not only that, they also offer targeted training and a path leading directly to a career in an industry of choice. No longer viewed as a route to low-paid, laborious jobs, apprenticeships are specialist by nature and can be undertaken in a vast number of professions – from marketing, PR and accountancy, to software development and law. Regardless of the sector, apprentices can always be sure the training they receive will be specialist, focused, and properly prepare them for the career ahead. 

 

No longer viewed as a route to low-paid, laborious jobs, apprenticeships are specialist by nature and can be undertaken in a vast number of professions – from marketing, PR and accountancy, to software development and law.

Now's the time

So, with the Government now putting its money where its mouth is, and committing to creating three million apprenticeships by 2020, now’s the time for employers and education providers to do the same – and help promote apprenticeships to students as a perfectly viable alternative to university. That said, research last year by the Chartered Management Institution and the EY Foundation has found that 86% of students are being given advice from their school about going to university, while less than half had received information about apprenticeships. This is something we’re keen to change – and we’re striving to help foster an environment where apprenticeships are placed on an equal footing to higher education. 

Employers also have a job to do, and over the next few weeks must consider how to make the incoming levy work for them. For businesses with an annual wage bill of over £3 million, it’s vital they make use of their training allowances offered through the apprenticeship levy. As it is compulsory for these businesses, it would be nonsensical for them to throw it away. For those unsure about how such schemes could benefit their business, you only need to look at the widening skills shortage across the UK, the fact that apprenticeships are a way of cutting costs while securing and retaining the best talent, as well as the fact they increase productivity, team motivation, and contribute to the wider economy. 

Here at Central YMCA, we’re holding workshops around the UK to educate employers on what apprenticeships can do for their business. So, if you’re an employer and this sounds of interest, you can come along to our Apprenticeship Reforms Roadshow. More information can be found here.

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