Apprenticeships are a combination of on-the-job training and classroom teaching that gives people the theoretical background and practical experience to do a job. Apprentices typically work alongside experienced staff to gain job-specific skills while attending courses with a local training provider, usually on a day-release basis.
So why do apprenticeships matter to HR departments? Simply, apprenticeships can help to solve three problems at once - resourcing, knowledge and skills transfer and talent management. Apprenticeships literally enable you to create a workforce with knowledge and skills tailored for your business, which will be increasingly critical for HR departments to ensure their businesses survive in the future.
We are already starting to feel the impact of an ageing population. Businesses must start to find ways of transferring knowledge to younger workers - and up-skilling the next generation to keep their business, and our economy, strong. With apprenticeships, you can ensure that young employees not only have the right theoretical background, but also specific, on-the-job training with experienced employees within your organisation who may be retiring in the next few years.
Businesses need new employees to be able to hit the ground running. By pairing theory and practical experience, this is exactly what apprentices can do. This is why we are seeing a range of people enrol in City & Guilds apprenticeship packages with the colleges, training providers and employers that offer our qualifications - from young people starting their careers, to university graduates and even older professionals looking for a career change.
As the business case for apprenticeships is becoming increasingly clear, many companies are considering them as an integral part of their talent management strategy. According to the National Apprenticeship Service's latest figures, more than 240,000 individuals started an apprenticeship last year and more than 100,000 businesses in England currently offer apprenticeships.
If you are looking for a place to start or for more information, get in touch with us at City & Guilds. As the UK's leading vocational awarding body, we create and quality assure qualifications for more than 150 apprenticeship packages - ranging from beauty to catering, from engineering to gambling to animal care. We have also partnered with companies like Flybe and B&Q to develop bespoke apprenticeship programmes. Additionally, we can point you towards resources, such as the Government's recent announcement of £2,500 of financial support for employers in England that take on new young apprentices.
Apprenticeships offer businesses the opportunity to mould the next generation of employees - and the chance to develop an ‘office ready' workforce that has theoretical knowledge paired with experience in the working world. To survive in the future, every business in the UK should be thinking seriously about how to integrate apprenticeships into their long-term workforce plan as part of their business strategy. For more information about apprenticeships, log onto www.cityandguilds.com/apprenticeships.
Sharon Saxton is group HR director at City & Guilds