Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has urged young people and businesses to take advantage of the benefits apprenticeships offer, as National Apprenticeship Week commences.
The event runs from 9-13 March 2015 and aims to highlight the impact apprenticeships have on both individuals and businesses.
In a video message, Clegg said: “National Apprenticeship Week gives us an opportunity to recognise the incredible achievements of these apprentices. It also enables us to thank the thousands of British employers giving them this chance to earn and learn, and inspire more young people, businesses and organisations to get involved.
“Whatever your sector, there’s a hard-working, dedicated apprentice out there ready to help your organisation thrive.”
Coinciding with National Apprenticeship Week, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT is calling on employers to support apprenticeship schemes to close the IT skills gap. BCS has been named as an assessment organisation for the Digital Industry Trailblazer apprenticeships.
The Trailblazers campaign, launched in October 2013, is an apprenticeship scheme made up of large and small employers and professional bodies that have collaborated on the apprenticeship standards to ensure apprentices undergo a high standard of training.
The Digital Industry Trailblazer standards have been created by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and were launched alongside the government campaign Get In, Go Far.
Some 1,000 businesses are now involved in designing the new apprenticeship standards. The first two IT apprenticeships to launch are Network Engineer and Software Developer.
The government invested £1.5bn in apprenticeships in 2013 and 2014, and according to the National Audit Office (NAO), there have been more than two million apprenticeships started in England since 2010. A total of 71% of apprentices have stayed with the same employer.
Read more about IT apprenticeships
- BT has launched a major job-creation scheme involving 700 apprenticeships and 300 graduate positions across the UK
- Nesta has invested half a million pounds into a website to help young people connect with employers and colleges to find apprenticeship schemes
- More than 10 applicants for every ICT apprenticeship as interest rises but fewer people are offered placements
The NAO also revealed that businesses report an average increase in productivity equalling £214 a week when they hire apprentices. According to the government office, for every pound of government investment in apprenticeships, the economy gets £18 back, with apprenticeships estimated to have contributed £34bn to the UK economy in 2014.
“The facts speak for themselves," Clegg continued in the video. "More apprentices than ever are making it into our top professions, with research showing that a fifth of all advanced apprentices progress to higher education and that gaining a higher-level apprenticeship can boost your lifetime earnings by £150,000.”
“Many employers tell us that taking on an apprentice has benefited their business. We’re working as hard as we can to ensure Britain’s economy has the skills it needs for the future, with over 1,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors helping to design top-quality apprenticeships as part of our Trailblazer scheme.
"But you can make the difference. Help us build on this success. So, if you want a good career or a boost to your business's bottom line – get an apprenticeship.”
Accenture runs a three-year apprenticeship programme combining structured IT training with on-the-job learning. The programme was launched in 2012 and has since helped 100 apprentices onto the career ladder.
Accenture Technology UK and Ireland managing director Emma McGuigan said it is vital a variety of routes into the IT industry are opened up to talented young people.
“By offering a range of entry points, we are able to build up a multi-skilled workforce from a variety of educational and social backgrounds," she said.
“A university degree may not be for everyone and apprenticeships offer an equally valuable route into IT careers. Apprenticeships are vital in boosting the UK economy and tackling youth unemployment, therefore we wholeheartedly support initiatives such as National Apprenticeship Week.”
The end of 2014 saw the chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne announce that from April 2016 employers will not have to pay National Insurance contributions for all but the highest earning apprentices aged under 25. In addition, small businesses will be able to apply for grants up to £1,500 to help cover the cost of starting a new apprentice aged between 16 and 24.