Much has been said in recent years about the unparalleled skills/talent paradox that is currently troubling the UK business arena. As unemployment has fallen following the global recession, a number of sectors have been revealed as suffering from skills shortages. The Government has looked to identify ways to tackle this crippling issue; however one still appears to be under-utilised – the apprenticeship. So with this in mind, what are the benefits of apprenticeships and how could they provide the answer to this ongoing problem?
Many young people entering the employment market for the first time have found themselves dissatisfied with the hiring market and the strategies employed by many firms. They report a lack of support and development opportunities as well as being unprepared for the challenges that the working world presents. And as already mentioned many businesses have struggled to find the solution to this problem.
Here at Capita Education Resourcing, we’re firm believers in the value of apprenticeships and, consequently, we work alongside local colleges to provide opportunities for junior talent. We currently offer both level 2 and 3 apprenticeships in childcare, for example which provide a valuable base for skills to be developed on. We also support the Apprenticeship Training Agency which provides funding for the student in the case of an employer stopping or altering a programme.
But what can jobseekers really gain from undertaking an apprenticeship?
Firstly, they offer the chance to ‘earn while you learn’. One of the biggest challenges with attending university is the inevitable mountain of debt that builds up after completion of studies. However, with an apprenticeship, candidates are provided with the national minimum wage for apprentices from the moment they begin their course, giving them a layer of comfort as they are actually earning money for the work they put in.
A challenge that has come to light in recent years is how to directly connect what’s taught in formal education with what is actually required in the workplace. Modern organisations are looking for a mixture of soft and technical skills, but some have reported a shortage of these attributes in many graduates and other young jobseekers. Completing an apprenticeship provides talent with access to the workplace and allows them to develop an understanding of what’s needed and expected from them in a supported fashion.
Finally, another benefit is that apprenticeships provide a varied learning experience. Programmes are generally a combination of learning while doing and classroom based studying. Individuals will also be able to learn from others in their industry by shadowing and being mentored by senior professionals in the organisation. Not only that, but undertaking an apprenticeship also opens the door to a range of other qualifications including HNDs (Higher National Diplomas), HNCs (Higher National Certificates), foundation degrees or even full honours degrees.
While apprenticeships won’t be for everyone, they do provide an accessible and valuable way into the working world. At a time when so many businesses are struggling to recruit the talent they need and identify the in depth skill sets they desperately require, it would make sense for more organisations to adopt this approach and embrace apprenticeships.
Mohammed Azam is managing director of Capita Education Resourcing