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National Apprenticeships Week: Employers pledge to increase recruitment


British employers have pledged to increase apprenticeship recruitment, according to a study released on the final day of National Apprenticeships Week.

Figures from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) reveal 81% of employers say apprenticeships will play a bigger part in their recruitment policy in future.

The independent report, compiled by Populus Research, suggests for many employers, the current economic climate makes having an apprenticeship programme more important than ever.

Three-quarters (75%) of those employers interviewed believed that despite the economic crisis, apprentices are more important than ever to their businesses. And a similar number, say apprenticeships have helped them cut their recruitment costs.

The research shows that lower recruitment costs and a perception that apprentices are more cost effective than other staff, ensure Apprenticeship programmes are increasingly important to businesses. Employers also believe apprentices start to make a valuable contribution to their business quickly.

Minister for skills, John Hayes welcomed the findings of the report - released the day after the Government launched a new campaign to promote apprenticeships.

He said: "This research demonstrates that British businesses realise how important apprenticeships can be in helping their companies to grow.

"Clarity of policy, strength of commitment and certainty of purpose in Government has delivered record numbers of apprenticeship starts, outstanding success rates and growth across all sectors.

"This success, mirrored in every English region, is putting businesses on stronger ground to deliver a more balanced economy."

Supporting the findings Keith Williams, British Airways chief executive added: "Our apprentices have become a crucial part of our operation since we launched new schemes in 2010. I'm extremely proud that in a year when all eyes are on emerging young talent we are seeing our biggest intake of apprentices."

The airline announced this week it will recruit an additional 200 apprentices this year.

Jaine Bolton, director of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: "Encouraging more employers to offer quality Apprenticeships is absolutely vital in equipping young people with the skills they need for the future - and the skills that Britain needs to grow.

"We are committed to creating a new era for Apprenticeships with increased quality of courses and ensuring that there has never been a better time to offer or take an Apprenticeship."

The news comes as the CIPD launches guidance to ensure that Government funding for apprenticeships delivers for employers, individuals and society.

The guidance is designed to cement high quality apprenticeships as a viable alternative route into professions and occupations and give employers greater ownership of their delivery.

The guide, Apprenticeships that Work, has been developed by a working group including representatives from employers including Rolls Royce, Siemens, Capgemini Marks and Spencer and West Sussex Council, as well as trade unions, the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). It is available to download from the CIPD website.

Ann Pickering, HR Director for Telefonica UK, said: "As the labour market becomes more and more competitive, apprenticeships have become increasingly important, particularly for young people, as a way of marking themselves out from the crowd and boosting career prospects. At O2, we are committed to helping our people grow and progress and we see the real value that Apprentices can offer us as a business.


"One of the key objectives for our Apprenticeship Programme is to develop the skill set of our employees so that they help us meet future skills requirements. We've found that offering a number of placements is a great way to develop raw talent and ensure that they have the knowledge, skills and experience that we need as a company. We're keen to prevent narrow-thinking, and want to encourage all our people to experience and learn about our business across multiple platforms. The apprenticeship scheme is a great way for us to do this as all our apprentices complete a series of placements and get the opportunity to experience a variety of job roles and teams, giving them valuable hands on experience in a range of disciplines.

"It's only in the last nine months that they undergo more in-depth training in the area that they will be placed in permanently. This practice has proven to be a really effective way to help us understand where there are skills gaps or requirements in different sectors. We also offer genuine career progression opportunities with the chance to apply for the Higher Apprenticeship scheme, which includes a work-based Foundation Degree which can be topped up to full Honours in one year.


"We believe that apprentices can provide real value to a company and we're keen to share our knowledge and experience of running a scheme with local businesses. That's why we held an event on Thursday 9 February with the East Berkshire Education Business Partnership to raise awareness of the value of apprentices amongst local businesses. We hope this will help their people achieve their ambitions and broaden their horizons in the same way that our apprentices have."