Apprentices are expected to contribute £3.4bn a year to the economy through productivity gains, according to a report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).
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The Productivity Matters: The impact of Apprenticeships on the UK economy report found that by 2022 £3.4bn a year could be generated as 3.8 million people are forecasted to complete an apprenticeship.
According to the figures, the average apprentice increases business productivity by £214 per week. Productivity gains vary according to sector. The engineering and manufacturing sectors see a gain of £414 per week, followed by construction and planning (£401) and business, administration and legal (£268).
Apprenticeship completions are expected to grow in all sectors, over the next decade, from 260,000 a year in 2012/2013 to 480,000 by 2021/2022.
The report forecasts 81,000 completions in the engineering and manufacturing sector by 2021/22, compared with 38,000 in 2012/13.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: “Apprenticeships are at the heart of our drive to provide employers with people who have the skills needed for their businesses to prosper and compete, often in a global market.
“Apprentices are vital to Great British business – from mechanical engineering and business administration to dental nursing and physiotherapy. We are making it as simple and rewarding as possible to take on apprentices.”
Vince Cable, secretary of state for business innovation and skills, said the research sends a clear message confirming the importance of apprentices: "Since 2010, we have had over a million people start an apprenticeship in the UK. But I want to see more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) reap the benefits of apprenticeships which is why we have introduced a £1,500 incentive for SMEs who take on a young person.
"I hope that during National Apprenticeship Week more employers up and down the country will look to increase their skill set and productivity by taking on an apprentice."
David Way, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: “Apprentices not only increase productivity but also bring creativity and dynamism into the workplace; the very best examples of which are being showcased in this year’s National Apprenticeship Week. We need to get this evidence across, particularly to small employers.
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“The Bridges Into Work Programme will help us to do this, by being able to reach many more small businesses who would benefit from taking on an apprentice.”
IT hiring growing at four times the rate of retail as online sales takes off
The number of IT and web design roles has risen by 32,000 over the past year, according to technology recruiter Greythorn. This is a 12% rise compared with the retail sector which only saw a 3% rise over the same period.
The analysis also found that online spending grew 10.9% in the year to February 2013, which is two and a half times faster than the total retail sales (4.4%).
Greythorn said it has seen growth of 89% in IT roles placed in online retail over the past year, when compared with the previous 12 months.
Mark Baxter, director of Greythorn, said: “The list of high street insolvencies is becoming a roll-call and there appears to be no end of famous names struggling or going under. It is undoubtedly sad news, but there is a silver lining in the growth of IT roles.
“As online shopping grows, companies are increasingly investing in improving the customer experience and the back-office operations supporting online sales. It is a key stage in transferring to a high tech economy. The number of specialised new roles is growing and that is only good news for IT professionals.”
The average salary of an IT system designer is £37,092. A retail manager, with a similar level of seniority, earns an average salary of £21,237.