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How the workforce feel about supporting apprentices

Richard Daniel Curtis

The government has set a target of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 and introduced an apprenticeship levy for employers with an annual wages bill of over £3million. Government guidance for pay and conditions references the support apprentices should receive in the workplace. Article by Richard Daniel Curtis, CEO of The Mentoring School.

This report summarises the results of a survey conducted with 100 random employees, including employees, self-employed people, team leaders, middle managers, senior management and CEOs or directors. The House of Commons Library (November 2016), identify that in 2015/16 there were 509,400 apprenticeships started, 56 percent of them being for people under the age of 25. 58 percent of the apprenticeships were at an Intermediate level 2, the type commonly used for new-entrant apprentices. The report identifies that 9.9 percent of those apprentices have some kind of learning difficulty or disability.

The Skills Funding Agency in May 2016 released the latest completion rates (known as achievement rates) for apprenticeships. In 2012/13 only 72.3 percent of apprentices completed their apprenticeship, in 2013/14 that dropped to 68.9 percent and in the 2014/15 cohort it was 71.7 percent.

Overall 49 percent of the people surveyed said they didn’t feel confident or didn’t know if they were skilled to mentor an apprentice. 63 percent do not and haven’t worked with an apprentice, of them 46 percent said they didn’t feel skilled and 98 percent said there should be training in place for people mentoring apprentices. Of the 16 percent who are working with or managing an apprentice currently, only 44 percent felt confident with supporting their pastoral, life, social and employability skills, with 100 percent saying there should be training. 21 percent of the respondents had previously been in that position and 48 percent of them reported that they felt confident in supporting apprentices.

Of the seven responsible for managing an apprentice, only 71 percent said they felt confident in mentoring them, and all felt training should be given.  Only 60 percent of managers and directors who responded felt confident in mentoring apprentices, with 40 percent of employees feeling confident in their skills. 96 percent of managers supported the need for training people supporting apprentices in providing pastoral, life, social and employability support; 98 percent of employees felt training was required.

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