• Alexandra Sydney
  • Mitesh Bhimjiyani
  • Emma Finamore

General Manager, Milkround

Why have many employers increased the range of apprenticeships they are offering?

"The upcoming apprenticeship levy has definitely encouraged employers to put more of a focus on apprenticeships as a recruitment tool. The media attention apprenticeships have been given has made employers really consider the variety, volume and content of apprenticeships they offer.

"However, prior to the levy apprenticeships were already moving into the spotlight for recruiters. The increase in university fees led this charge, and although we haven’t witnessed a decline in university applicants, it certainly made employers think about the best routes to attracting entry level talent into their businesses."

 

What guarantees do apprenticeships give in terms of equipping a business with future skills and business needs?

"Apprenticeships have the potential to create a completely different employee than graduate schemes. When you train an apprentice, you end up with an employee whose skillset is tailored for the business and who has a great sense of loyalty to the brand. In its essence, it is an investment into developing a productive and dedicated workforce who should remain in the business for a long time."

 

What are the benefits/opportunities of apprenticeships for school leavers?

"The benefits are near endless. Without having to worry about paying back a student loan, you get plenty of opportunities for qualifications and vocational training. You start earning a salary more quickly than your university-educated peers, and you get a head start in terms of experience in the workplace. By the time graduates are entering the business, you may already have spent years there honing your skills and building a network of contacts."

 

What advice would you give to businesses looking at going down the apprenticeship route – and what encouragement would you give them if they are in two minds about it?

"Having a structured approach to apprenticeships is crucial – they need to be carefully planned to ensure that you are getting a sound return on investment in terms of skilled employees. When approached correctly, apprenticeships are an opportunity to train young candidates in a way that is most beneficial to the business.

"Only about half of young people attend university according to the Department of Education, meaning that there is a largely untapped potential talent resource available to employers. By targeting the other half of young people, businesses may find candidates that take well to working life but do not thrive in a strict learning environment."

 

What advice would you give to school leavers who are confused about the type of apprenticeships they should apply for?

"Research is absolutely key - do not be put off by the sheer choice of opportunities available to you. Think about what sector you would like to have a career in and then look at how to get there. By taking your individual strengths into account you can determine if, for example, a higher apprenticeship or a sponsored degree is the right decision for you.

"For those who are unsure whether an apprenticeship is for them – keep in mind that they are available in more sectors than ever before. At the moment you can be an apprentice in such diverse industries as digital marketing and the legal sector!"

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Founder, Success at School

Why have many employers increased the range of apprenticeships they are offering?

“Any business has a number of positions they recruit for, so if you’re a construction company for example, you’ll still need people in your IT, HR or finance departments. There are a few main reasons behind the increase: The apprenticeship levy acts as an incentive for businesses to fulfil their needs by recruiting apprentices. Apprentices will get properly trained and learn the skills for their chosen field, and therefore can really hit the ground running. They bring fresh ideas to organisations who can be slow to progress. So it makes sense for companies to offer a range of apprenticeship opportunities outside of their core business.”

 

What guarantees do apprenticeships give in terms of equipping a business with future skills and business needs?

“By their very nature, the new apprenticeship standards are designed by employers to train individuals in the skills required for that particular business. The combination of training and on-the-job experience should theoretically mean apprentices have a sound basis to meet skills gaps and business demands. Any organisation that invests in its people is future-proofing itself; apprenticeships are a way of doing that.”

 

What are the benefits/opportunities of apprenticeships for school leavers?

“Apprenticeships open up a much broader range of opportunities to roles and careers that school leavers would have previously needed a degree for. Many employers put a strong focus on apprentices’ personal and professional development, which is impressive. They’ll start learning skills they need for the workplace sooner than the graduates.
With tuition fees as high as they are, apprenticeships provide school leavers a route into a job without accumulating the debt that comes with doing a university degree. They will have also built rapport with their colleagues for many years by the time their equivalent graduate in take arrives.”

 

What advice would you give to businesses looking at going down the apprenticeship route –  and what encouragement would you give them if they are in two minds about it?

“My general ethos is: if you don’t try you’ll never know. It does require investing some time in setting up an apprenticeship programme but there are plenty of organisations that have done it successfully and are reaping the benefits. Competition for talent is already high; if you’re thinking about it and want to wait and see, the competition is going to hot up even more. But don’t just do it because everyone else is, make sure an apprentice programme will work well for your organisation as well as the apprentices themselves.”

 

What advice would you give to school leavers who are confused about the type of apprenticeships they should apply for?

“This is a great question. In fact, one of the reasons I set up successatschool.org was to help young people understand their options. And while it’s great that there are more career options these days, students need clear, unbiased advice. They can do an intermediate, advanced, higher or degree apprenticeship, or go to university. When you add employers and job roles into the mix, young people really do face a number of choices and big decisions.
“When looking at which apprenticeship to apply for, I think the answer lies with the individual first and the apprenticeship after. I would ask school leavers to firstly think about their own personal goals and ambitions; the areas they would most enjoy working in; and the skills they want to develop. Secondly, look for apprenticeships that match these goals and decide how much studying you want to do alongside it. This should help you decide the type (intermediate, advanced, higher, degree), employer and role you want to pursue.”

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Editor, AllAboutSchoolLeavers.co.uk

Why have many employers increased the range of apprenticeships they are offering?

I think employers recognise that the non-university careers route is increasing in popularity with young people, and they’re trying to take advantage of that demand. AllAboutSchoolLeavers’ research last year found that 83% of employers believe the school leaver recruitment market will overtake the graduate recruitment market over the next five years – up from 78.3% in 2015.

Apprentices also offer skills that graduates don’t necessarily have. Through workplace experience they quickly build up not only the technical/practical skills specific to their role but important ‘soft skills’: leadership, teamwork and communication. These are vital, and ones that university graduates (entering at the same level as someone who’s just completed an apprenticeship with the same employer) might be lacking.

The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy means employers are considering the importance of these programmes.

 

What guarantees do apprenticeships give in terms of equipping a business with future skills and business needs?

The training side of apprenticeship programmes are great for ensuring apprentices have the exact practical and/or theoretical skills and knowledge required for the particular role and employer, but one of the key guarantees for the future is their experience in the workplace, as real employees of the business. Working as part of the team – and for the employer in a wider context – guarantees that they are well-versed in the processes and ethos of the business, and are building working relationships with their colleagues from the word go.

 

What are the benefits/opportunities of apprenticeships for school leavers?

Apprentices are paid to learn and aren’t charged for their training, unlike university students who infamously pay a huge price for their courses and only earn cash if they take on jobs outside of university. Apprentices also gain the exact qualifications and skills for a particular job – making them incredibly employable – while many graduates struggle to find jobs matching their skills. According to the Skills Funding Agency, 77% of apprentices stay with the same employer after their programme.

Apprentices have an advantage over their peers in terms of work-based experience: they will be accustomed to working in their team and environment, while a graduate of the same age will have only just left the lecture hall.

 

What advice would you give to businesses looking at going down the apprenticeship route – and what encouragement would you give them if they are in two minds about it?

Employers wanting to attract young people to their apprenticeship programmes should also promote them to parents: 78.5% of pupils say their parents are the ones who help them make career decisions. It’s also worth targeting careers advisers and teachers. AllAboutSchoolLeavers has extensive databases of pupils, parents and careers advisers/teachers, and works in schools (outreach work as well as providing information packs), so is well-placed to help employers reach these groups.

Those in two minds need only look at the 77% retention rate to see that the investment made in apprentices does pay off!

 

What advice would you give to school leavers who are confused about the type of apprenticeships they should apply for?

This depends partly on the education level at which you leave school. The first level is Intermediate Apprenticeships – you don’t need many GCSEs for these.

With five GCSEs you can do Advanced Apprenticeships, and those with two A-levels can do Higher Apprenticeships. Introduced in 2015, Degree Apprenticeships are aimed at school leavers with a certain number of UCAS points, in the same way that universities have entry requirements. Find more detailed information on each type in our website’s School Leaver Options section.

Also look at the jobs you want to do and figure out which apprenticeships can get you there. For example, if you know you want to work in accounting, research the various apprenticeship routes into that field: you can do apprenticeships from Intermediate all the way up to Degree Apprenticeships in this area.