Apprenticeships have played a pivotal role in helping these businesses to boost their competitiveness; and secure the talented individuals whose future knowledge, skills and industry experience will galvanise these employers to reach greater heights.

 

Apprentices are good for business

 

The Government vision is very clear – we want to see 3 million high quality apprenticeships by 2020.

Apprenticeships work. We know that they offer people across Britain a ‘ladder of opportunity’ to get on in highly skilled jobs, with more than 90 per cent of apprentices staying in employment after their scheme ends. Apprenticeships make good commercial sense. That’s the message I hear loudly from employers in meetings across the country.

So, I want other employers to look at the remarkable examples of the companies here and pledge to emulate their successes. And that means employers of all sizes – as well as in the public and private sectors.

 

Building skills and knowledge

 

Fundamentally, apprenticeships are designed by employers so we know that they will give businesses the skills they are crying out for. This is one of the key reasons why groups of employers have come together in Trailblazers to design and develop the new high quality apprenticeship standards; to make sure apprenticeships provide employers with the critical attributes, knowledge and behaviours that work in the real world of business.

We are only three months away now from one of the biggest revolutions in apprenticeships in the last forty years.

We are introducing the apprenticeship levy in April as well as the launch of the digital apprenticeship service. The levy will ensure both significant and sustainable investment in apprenticeships; as well as enabling employers to shape their workforce to meet their business priorities through apprenticeships.

 

A ‘ladder for opportunity’

 

Since becoming the Skills Minister, I have met hundreds of young people with a passion for apprenticeships. They really do see apprenticeships as a ‘ladder of opportunity’ – where progression towards a higher or Degree apprenticeship is realistically achievable. To all these young people, I say, no matter who you are, or where you are from, or whatever you want to do, an apprenticeship will open doors for you.

One of my priorities is to make sure that the 3 million apprenticeships reflect the talents from the widest spectrum of our society. I want individuals from every community and every background to see apprenticeships as the chance to improve their careers and lives.

Social mobility matters to me. Not just to make up numbers but to make up and reflect the perspectives and unique contributions of our richly diverse society.

And every industry can benefit hugely from the fresh thinking and different approaches that apprentices from diverse backgrounds bring.

 

Becoming an apprenticeship nation

 

Imagine the innovation, design, and enterprise that is recognised when a workforce is proportionately made up of the audience it serves. I have met many enlightened employers committed to widening access to apprenticeships – but we need to do more. Let’s also look forward to National Apprenticeship Week between March 6-10 for more inspirational stories from employers and apprentices showcasing what you can achieve through an apprenticeship.

Finally, congratulations again to all the employers listed here. I want to see Britain becoming an apprenticeship nation where people are trained in skills that will make ours a country that works for everyone.