Celebrating apprenticeships and their many benefits

National Apprenticeship Week takes place from 7th-13th February and celebrating this thoughtful and effective means of developing individual skills and knowledge has never been more important.

Apprenticeships play a tremendously important part of our skills pipeline and development. They offer opportunities for young people, our wider communities and those in work. They also help answer any talent issues that businesses may be facing at a given point in time and increase productivity.

The last two years have been tough for everyone, but especially so for those taking their first steps into the world of work, who must have found it really strange. It’s only right to applaud those who have been tenacious enough to stick at it and thank the incredible employers who had faith in the system and kept going despite a myriad of challenges, not least the move to online and remote workforce management.

A real and wonderful cause for celebration this National Apprenticeship Week is the significant increase we’ve seen this year in the number of apprenticeship vacancies that are available.

Kudos to the teachers and lecturers who have promoted this valuable route to skills and employment and who take our apprentices through the programme, and to the employers who give up time and effort to work with those – young and old – learning new skills for the first time.

So many apprentices and their families have recognised the value of apprenticeships and are seeing a positive career impact. The ability for our young people to learn while they earn, develop technical and practical skills and work towards a recognised qualification, with the potential to study at degree apprenticeship levels, should not be under-estimated. We are hopeful that the current momentum and increased success we are seeing will encourage even more to follow suit and sign up.

What’s particularly exciting is the number of new apprentice routes coming through, which really create varied career options. For example, many are coming through for the first time from various employers within the public sector including many of the government departments with which we work, such as DEFRA and the NHS through to the Cabinet Office.

Our emerging sectors, from energy, offshore and health and life sciences, are also rich in apprenticeship opportunities. All of these open the door to more and better jobs and are great for those keen to develop and stay future-ready.

From what we see in schools and colleges, the apprentice route is becoming well established and our work with national stakeholders such as the Education Training Foundation and Amazing Apprenticeships is really helping our drive to achieve parity in technical and academic education. It’s a really positive step that apprenticeships are increasingly seen as a clear, proven and successful career route with parents, carers and young people.

Apprenticeships are embedded into our North East Ambition Programme and our big ask is for even more employers to get involved.

Changes to the system and particularly rules that came about during the COVID period have occasionally made navigating official websites quite complicated, however the team at North East Ambition are always here to answer any issues or questions. Our apprenticeship providers also have teams of experts dedicated to working with employers. If you’re interested, please just ask for help as it’s out there to explain and simplify the process.

Finally, I am struck when I talk to business leaders from around the country and our region about how many of them came through the apprenticeship route. We have some great ambassadors and advocates for apprenticeships and that is something to be proud of.

I hope National Apprenticeship Week 2022 inspires even more people to choose an apprenticeship, and even more organisations to reap the benefit of securing talent in this way. It’s a tried and tested way to help people into employment, to support businesses and to boost our local economy.

Visit www.northeastgrowthhub.co.uk for information and support on apprenticeships for businesses.

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