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UK economy? You’re highered

Can apprenticeships really bring Britain out of recession? Championing the new apprenticeship renaissance, City & Guilds is convinced as its campaign to help ensure one million apprenticeship, by summer 2013

Nine out of ten (89 percent) employers and HR managers surveyed see apprentices as key to the future success of their business over the next two years, as they fight their way out of recession, according to a new report released by City & Guilds today. Over half (52 percent) of those companies who already recruit apprentices believe that they offer greater value than hiring university graduates. However over a quarter (26 percent) of all employers want the apprentice recruitment process to become simpler and less time consuming.

The report, ‘Building Business Through Apprenticeships’ from City & Guilds – the UK’s leading vocational education organisation and largest supplier of Apprenticeship qualifications – is based on the responses of over 500 employers and HR managers surveyed across the UK. Seven out of ten (71 percent) employers of apprentices say apprenticeships are a vital element in an organisation’s recruitment and training and development mix. However, currently there are only eleven Apprenticeship places for every 1,000 employees in the UK.

The report findings reveal that eight out of ten (80 percent) employers have experienced barriers to hiring apprentices; a quarter (25 percent) argue the process is too bureaucratic; over a quarter (26 percent) don’t feel there are relevant apprentice schemes for their business and over a fifth (22 percent) are concerned apprentices will leave their company as soon as they are qualified.

Chris Jones, CEO and Director General, City & Guilds said: “Many businesses, large or small, know that Apprenticeships can transform their organisation, but unless the barriers preventing more employers, particularly SMEs, from hiring an apprentice are addressed, there will continue to be a gap between supply and demand. There will also be over 210,000 people who won’t get a place at University this summer. And, with our increasingly ageing population, core industry skills and quality of experience will continue to leave the UK workforce. City & Guilds is leading a new kind of revolution to help solve the challenges of Apprenticeships so that more employers can offer places.”

As the education system undergoes its biggest shake up in years, the Government, recognising that Apprenticeships are key to the success of the future UK economy, have increased their funding and support – led by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) – to enable an additional 75,000 new Apprenticeships starts per year, from now until September 2013.

In response, City & Guilds is holding its first ever Apprenticeship Summit – ‘Building Business: Economic Growth through Apprenticeships’ – to take place at the start of Apprenticeship Week on Monday 7 February 2011. The Summit, in partnership with Business in the Community, brings together key political leaders and employers to create a powerful, collective voice on how to overcome the barriers identified in the report that companies face in recruiting apprentices.

Karren Brady, Vice-Chairman of West Ham Utd and star of TV’s The Apprentice, is attending the Summit: “It’s great to see leaders from the UK’s top businesses coming together to discuss how we can really make a difference to people, business and the economy. Apprentices are key to the future of the country: it’s crucial that Apprenticeships bridge the gap between what companies need in order to grow and provide young and older people with hands on experience, guidance and qualifications which develop and recognise real skills in a career they want.”

The Summit also marks the launch of Million Extra – City & Guilds’ campaign to support of the Government and NAS to help ensure one million people start an Apprenticeship between now and the summer of 2013. To succeed in their mission, City & Guilds will collaborate with employers, training centres, trade and industry bodies and government agencies to develop and provide the key support employers, training centres and learners need to utilise the great opportunity that now exists.

Chris Jones, CEO and Director General, City & Guilds said: “It is not enough for the Government to simply supply funding – as welcome as that may be. It’s about collective action and we know there are many constraints on businesses currently and barriers around hiring apprentices, and that is why we are launching Million Extra. It’s ambitious, but we are committed to providing tools, support and inspiration, and only by bringing people together can we find the right solutions to make this happen”.

With more apprentices developing their skills in one of 1,000 approved City & Guilds Apprenticeship training centres, across 26 industry areas and 170 job roles – City & Guilds offers the widest range of Apprenticeships in the UK.

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