You're likely to be very busy at the moment if you are in a role supporting students during what feels like a rapidly changing climate in further and higher education. Many businesses have, understandably, curbed what should be a fast run-up to next year’s onboarding season, and apprenticeship recruitment in particular can be a lot further down the list of priorities.
Yet we must not forget that we started 2020 in an arguably ‘golden age’ for apprenticeships. Take England alone, over 700,000 people were participating in an apprenticeship in 2019, with 54% of this figure under the age of 24. Pretty impressive right? More so, these learning programmes span all sectors and most are still remarkably new and therefore adaptable (even to lockdown living!). They are also, in most cases, a way of bringing to life sustainable business strategies around equality, diversity and inclusion.
So, if you're reading this, we hope you’ll take some time aside to recognise the value of your apprenticeship programmes and their important contribution to supporting the Class of 2020.
Addressing the skills gap.
Findings from Futures at Stake 2020, a report on the challenges facing employers and young people, speaks of a looming skills crisis in the U.K. 47% of employers agreed that skills shortages are happening right now, with 6 in 10 saying that they expect this to get worse as they struggle to hire new employees with the right skills for their organisation.
It sounds gloomy but a more upbeat finding is an astounding 73% of employers said they think recruiting young people under the age of 25 could be the solution.
This view becomes even more interesting when you consider apprenticeships in the light of our new ‘digital’ normal. One of the best things about apprenticeships is that they are driven by employment needs: if employers need more electricians, managers or social workers they will create more apprenticeships.
Whilst we’ve been talking about a digital revolution for years, the new set of circumstances we find ourselves in (at least for the short-term) will compound the need for fresh talent in areas such as Software, I.T, Digital Marketing and Cyber security. So, apprenticeships could be key in solving the skills gap, supporting businesses and young people in both the short and long-term.
Adaptability – Some silver linings
There’s been some abrupt changes to the way that we work recently, but these have created some opportunities for apprenticeship delivery. Take training providers for example. In an online context, assessors can meet with more students remotely, (and whilst here at Uptree we love face to face) a removal of geographical boundaries can help more students to improve their careers.
Online learners can also move at a more individualised pace, rather than conforming to group classroom targets. And more experienced staff, may, at least temporarily, have some time to mentor apprentices and improve their new experience. Did you know that 87% of millennials prioritise professional development in a job? What better time than now to focus on enriching your apprenticeship programmes virtual offering as a way to improve employee retention.
Apprenticeships are paid jobs that incorporate on and off the job training. They help to recruit, develop and train from some of the most diverse talent pools, including keeping many in education who would otherwise turn to full-time employment as a way to make ends meet. Through an apprenticeship, a young person already has an employer, no student debt and a promise to move into a worthwhile career.
Young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are significantly less confident about getting a job they want, and often face tough decisions around finances and education. Apprenticeships are an amazing way of addressing some of these issues, and it’s likely they will become even more important in a post Covid-19 world.
Developing a diverse group of future leaders
By shining the light on apprenticeships, it’s quick to see how they can support the existing labour market whilst providing young people with a great alternative to traditional university education.
Future Talent at a recent FuturesUP event
Whilst most of us knew this already, recent months have allowed for a reflection on the sector and the obvious benefits apprenticeships offer in the Early Careers space. It’s naturally too early to appreciate the long-term impacts of our current crisis - and to be honest it gives most of us a headache to think about - but by celebrating your apprenticeships programmes and keeping the conversation as a focus, you’ll be championing the need to support young people across the UK.
Uptree would like to thank all of our partners who work with us to promote apprenticeships. If you would like to work with us to promote your apprenticeship programme, or would like to work with us, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org