With National Apprenticeship Week starting today (Monday), the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute) are teaming up to spread the word about life-changing apprenticeship opportunities.

We want people across the nation from all backgrounds to know that:

  • World class apprenticeships, which have fared well overall through the pandemic, are a fantastic tool for levelling up and must underpin opportunities for all. 
  • Employers stand ready to launch the next generation into fulfilling and lucrative careers through work-based training programmes that now support progress all the way up to senior management level.

Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, who is president of the BCC and chair of the Institute and former chief executive officer of FTSE 250 firm Mitie Group PLC, is spearheading the campaign. She said:

“The government has pointed the way forward for levelling up opportunities for everyone across the country and apprenticeships and skills training will be vital to that. National Apprenticeship Week is the perfect opportunity to shout from the rooftops about all the incredible opportunities that apprenticeships now provide to get a foot on the careers ladder and progress to the top.
“As well as all the traditional trades, they now train tomorrow’s economists, nurses, aerospace engineers, countryside rangers, brewers, laboratory scientists, graphic designers and even archaeologists up to degree level. The possibilities are endless.”

Although many businesses have found it tough, apprenticeship uptake remained strong throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. There was just a 0.3% fall last year and most recent figures show we are recovering to pre-Covid levels.

Vacancies doubled this November compared to the year before, which shows employers are also now working hard to recruit.

Apprenticeships have extremely high satisfaction rates with employers (85%) and they generate a lot of loyalty among the trainees. There are over 640 apprenticeships now to choose from covering a massive variety of jobs up to degree level.

Major employers including the Coca Cola, Sky, the BBC, Royal Mail, the NHS, GlaxoSmithKline, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Tony & Guy, Capgemini, Microsoft, and Google all now support apprenticeships. Amazon announced last week a further 1,500 apprenticeships this year.

The BCC, Institute, and wider government are working hard to encourage more smaller employers to take on apprentices.

We also want far more young people to get involved. Around half of those who started on apprenticeships last year were aged over 25 and nationally the number of economically inactive young people has gone up by over 100,000 since the start of the pandemic.

McGregor-Smith said:

“Businesses of all sizes merging from the pandemic need a skilled workforce and don’t want to lose out on the next generation. Government is more invested than ever before in apprenticeships and surveys also show that most young people would now consider an apprenticeship. It’s time to join the dots through talking up the fantastic opportunities that will be amplified through the levelling up agenda. There has never been a better time to get behind apprenticeships!”

The view from the frontline

Laura Brogden, head of career development at St Helens Chamber, said:

“Apprenticeships are a fantastic option for young people, as they can gain nationally recognised qualifications alongside real work experience which allows them to stand out from other candidates in a competitive job market. We’re seeing more and more employers valuing work experience and practical knowledge, so there’s never been a better time to be an apprentice.”

Paalan Sood, director at Sood Marketing, said:

“Apprenticeships are an incredible way for a small business to recruit and grow. By utilising the apprenticeship scheme when we first launched, we could take on staff, train them in areas we wanted them to work in and increase our business output. It was an excellent opportunity to allow new team members to grow into their roles, learn simultaneously, and earn money. We have taken on many apprentices over the last four years and will continue to do so moving forward. Apprenticeships have been critical to our growth.”

Lois Venables, an apprentice in marketing at Sood, said:

“Going down the apprenticeship route instead of going to university was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only did it allow me to earn money while I learned valuable skills, but I also got my level 3 and level 4 qualifications.”

Steve Tellwright, human resources director at Capula – an engineering and digital technology company, said:

“Capula has benefitted over many years from the diversity and talent that is available through the apprenticeship pathway. We champion apprenticeships and have over 10 per cent of our workforce currently completing an apprenticeship in either electrical engineering or digital. Over time this has brought many advantages to Capula, particularly diversification by providing individuals from all backgrounds with the benefit of being able to attain high level qualifications whilst gaining significant industrial engineering experience. Our apprenticeship programme has attracted exceptional talent that continues to be vital to our business success. We are committed to developing the right opportunities and giving the level of support that is needed to ensure our apprentices can grow, develop and achieve their potential.”

Tom Mitchell, an apprentice Junior Engineer at Capula, said:

"Since starting my apprenticeship with Capula they have helped me to develop many skills that I believe will significantly benefit me throughout my engineering career. I would recommend the apprenticeship route to anybody that is considering it, as it showcases the skills, knowledge and behaviours you need to be successful in your chosen career. In addition, you will benefit from gaining on the job experience, have access to bespoke support and achieve qualifications at the same time."