Ahead of National Apprenticeship Week (Feb 6-12), apprentices nationwide are coming together to share their top tips for new starters and advise employers on the best way to retain them.

Amy Marren, solicitor apprentice and former Paralympic athlete and leading IfATE Apprentice Panel member, said: “Having been an apprentice twice now, first as a paralegal and now to become a solicitor, I can confidently say that earning and learning has been brilliant for me. I became an apprentice while participating in the Paralympics and I’ve never looked back. I want every apprentice to have that experience which is why I’m working with IfATE to ensure the right quality checks and support are in place.”

Over 300,000 people signed up to be an apprentice last academic year. That’s an 8.6% increase on the year before and over 740,000 are now on apprenticeships in total. Interest is growing fast in how apprenticeships can fill skills gaps to boost productivity and drive economic recovery, while also delivering all the quality training and support trainees need.

However, four in ten apprentices currently fail to complete and pass their end point assessment. This is in part because standards have risen, so they have got harder, but there is also more support many employers and training providers can provide to make sure everyone goes the full distance. The Panel of Apprentices is tackling this with recommendations for the Department for Education - supported by leading government agency IfATE (the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education) - and their best practice toolkit for employers and training providers titled Raising The Standards.

Harvey Church, another IfATE Apprentice Panel member and broadcast engineer apprentice at the BBC, said: “There always seem to be questions around HOW and WHAT is needed to make the experience for apprentices as great as possible, and that is the aim of this toolkit. We wanted this to be clear and simple guidance on how to do just that – all written and approved by a group of apprentices!”

Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of IfATE, has also shared her advice. She is available for interviews about the options available to employers today.

“Now is the time to follow Lord Sugar’s example and hire an apprentice! The overall success of the apprenticeship programme has been undersold – household names across the country are offering apprenticeships with great progression opportunities – PWC, Pfizer, Google, Nestle, the National Trust, the BBC, as well as countless small and medium sized businesses who are the backbone of our economy.
“IfATE has worked with thousands of employers to ensure apprenticeships meet their skills need. During National Apprenticeship Week we will be celebrating this through the #SkillsforLife campaign as well as doing more to make sure the system works for everyone.”

Since IfATE launched five years ago, there are now over 650 apprenticeships available to train people of all ages and fill skills gaps right across the economy from entry level 2 up to degree level, which is a much better reflection of the nation’s true skills needs. As well as all the traditional trades, they now train economists, nurses, aerospace engineers, countryside rangers, brewers, laboratory scientists, graphic designers and even archaeologists.