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Apprentices lacking support from line managers

A quarter of firms have never considered taking on an apprentice

One in five (20%) apprentices lack support from their line manager, according to research from The Open University authored by Towards Maturity.

In Focus: The Work-based Learning Dividend surveyed 600 learning and development leaders and more than 300 apprentices, interns and trainees. It found that while 93% of employers had good intentions to fully integrate learning into the workplace, in reality just 15% managed to achieve this.

Additionally, almost half (45%) of apprentices said that they did not have enough time to study, despite the new apprenticeship standards requiring that at least 20% of working hours are ringfenced for off-the-job training.

Jane Daly, co-author and head of strategic insights at Towards Maturity, said businesses should strive towards becoming “learning organisations”.

“This research has highlighted that leaders and people professionals not only need a growth mindset, but also the ability to create long-term, networked and boundary-less talent experiences,” she said. “work-based learning experiences will pay out huge dividends if they are intrinsically linked to a learning organisation prepared to listen, learn and continuously transform itself.”

Steve Hill, external engagement director at The Open University, said culture will play a crucial role in addressing the issue.

"Addressing the talent deficit is crucial to tackling productivity and ensuring the UK remains competitive on the world stage,” he said. “Never has there been a stronger need for the 'learning organisation' – an employer that values the development of adaptability and agility in its employees.

“Supporting a culture of learning is central to this. And it’s up to the influencers in the organisation, senior and line managers, mentors and teams to build an environment where the apprentice becomes a confident and respected team member making a valued contribution to the business. Using technology will also alleviate concerns around the requirements to deliver work-based training, by significantly reducing time for all involved.”

Separate research from Adecco has found that 25% of UK organisations have never considered taking on apprentices.

The survey of over 1,000 employers found that 27% thought an apprenticeship qualification is not well suited to their business needs. The idea that apprenticeships require too much time from the management team put off 18%, and the worry that they are too much of a long-term commitment in the current market was a concern for 11%.

Chris Moore, president of group operations for The Adecco Group UK and Ireland, was worried by the findings. “We need to be promoting the tangible workplace benefits that apprenticeships offer in terms of culture-fit and tenure. We might just find that apprenticeships become the key to our country’s success if Brexit creates further talent gaps.”