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Apprentices and employers show support during National Apprenticeship Week

Kayleigh Bateman

Apprentices and employers are showing their support for the apprenticeship arena as part of National Apprenticeship Week.

Apprentices and employers were applauded for outstanding achievements and increased growth during an event called New Jobs, New Talent, New Opportunities held at the BT Tower today.

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Organised by e-skills UK the event aimed to recognise the importance of apprenticeships in the UK, by applauding 45 outstanding apprentices representing 21 companies across the UK.

Matthew Hancock, Minister of State for skills and enterprise, said: “96% of employers that take on an apprentice report benefits to their business, and I would encourage other employers to find out how apprentices can improve the skills base within their business."

Present at the event was apprentice Nicole Maddocks from Manchester. Maddocks is on an advanced level apprenticeship in web development at Harpoon Media.

She said: “I can honestly say that the apprenticeship is allowing me to live my dream job, and I feel privileged to have such a great position so early in my career.

“Due to all the help and support I’ve received, I’m so confident in my role and proudly call myself a junior web developer.”

Since 2011, companies including Accenture, Atos, BT, Capgemini, CGI, CSC, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Steria, and TCS have been working with e-skills UK to increase their own apprenticeship tally, in addition to encouraging the technology sector to offer more placements to young people.

Ann Brown, HR director at Capgemini said: “Working together, we are in an incredibly strong position to respond to current and future skills needs, and to ensure the workforce has the right people with the right skills.”

Karen Price, chief executive of e-skills UK, said: “Employers are telling us that apprenticeships have a critical role to play in building the sustainable talent pipeline, which is so urgently needed to ensure the UK’s global leadership in technology innovation.”

According to the National Audit Office, for every £1 of public funding for apprenticeships the economic return could be as much as £21 for advanced apprenticeships, and £18 across all levels of apprenticeships.

Almost half of UK businesses plan to take on apprentices over next five years

According to research from ICM, nearly half (46%) of England’s IT and telecoms businesses plan to take on apprentices over the next five years. Furthermore, 24% plan to do so in the next 12 months.

Questioning 600 businesses across all industries, 46% of IT and telecoms firms admitted to being more likely to offer an apprenticeship now than they would have done two years ago. 

Two in five (38%) said this is because apprenticeships have grown in popularity and therefore the talent pool is wider. A total of 33% said it has become easier to employee apprentices and 32% said they have more job roles available to suit an apprentice now, compared to two years ago.

Secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, Vince Cable, said: “As we kick off National Apprenticeship Week it’s good to see that employers are increasingly recognising the value apprentices can bring to their businesses. Apprentices are now a key and valued part of the workforce for most businesses, large or small, and the huge increase which this government has overseen is one of my proudest achievements.

“Given the grants available to help small businesses take on apprentices, it’s especially good that so many SMEs are embracing apprenticeships in the coming years and that apprentice recruitment now forms a key part of a businesses’ plans for sustainable growth.

Virgin Media announced today that it is creating 120 additional apprenticeship opportunities. The company claimed to receive 63 applications for every place on its course last year.

In the past two and half years, Virgin Media has seen 350 apprentice engineers graduate into full time roles. The scheme has processed 750 apprentices since its launch in 2008.

The networking giant offers apprenticeships in three levels: intermediate, advanced and higher, with successful graduates achieving NVQs in communication technology.

Paul Buttery, Virgin Media’s chief customer, technology and networks officer, started his career as a telecoms apprentice: “An apprenticeship launched my career and all apprentices should set their sights on getting to the top of their industry.

"We are really proud of our schemes, which have been a great success over the last six years and are expanding into different parts of our business, including management.” 

BT announced this morning that it is creating more than 1,000 apprenticeship and graduate jobs in IT technology, research and engineering.


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