With 742,000 people in England participating in an apprenticeship schemes last year1, it is clear that many are starting to recognise them as a force for good. Despite this, there is still work to be done to address a tarnished apprenticeship brand, which has taken a hit over recent years.
There are still deep-routed misconceptions surrounding apprenticeships, such as the idea that they are inferior to more conventional educational paths and only relevant for blue-collar trades and low paid sectors. This is simply not true. In fact, the sectors offering the largest numbers of apprenticeships in the UK last year were business administration and law, with almost a third of all new apprentices working across these industries. 2
At MyKindaFuture, we work with schools and colleges, employers and the government, to better communicate the value of apprenticeships. Here, I'll set out the benefits apprenticeships offer, both for young people and businesses.
Provide Students with Choice
The traditional, academic route, culminating with university, is not the only path worth considering for students. When it comes to education, one size does not fit all and by only offering young people a rigid path that relies heavily on exam success, a large number of students who don’t naturally excel in academia are being set up to fail. For this reason, it is crucial that students are shown what options exist outside of the traditional route that are still credible to employers, such as apprenticeships.
Encourage Different Ways of Thinking
A rigid, linear approach to education also risks stifling entrepreneurial, creative minds. All of the fastest-growing companies in the world are those that disrupt the market, not conform; and they rely on employees who express original ways of thinking. Education providers must nurture talented minds that break the mould, and this starts by changing the mindset that conventional educational paths are the only route to success.
Prepare Young People for Work
While there remains some debate about the purpose of education – is it predominantly about learning the subject matter or preparing young people for adult life? It is undeniable that, eventually, the majority of people will leave education and go out into the world of work.
Unlike a degree, apprenticeships provide young people with real-life work experience while they work towards a qualification. As a result, apprentices qualify equipped with industry knowledge and experiences, enabling them to hit the ground running as soon as they start in a role. This is particularly valuable for young people that have their eyes set firmly on the world of work in a specific sector.
Apprenticeships are not just relevant for blue-collar trades. Right now, in fact, apprenticeships are booming in cybersecurity and digital marketing, as well as business administration and law, where earning potential is massive.
Benefit Businesses’ Bottom Line
In addition, apprentices can also help businesses to achieve their strategic goals. While workforce planning, employers are increasingly starting to turn to apprentices to provide the skills that they need in the present, as well as five to ten years down the line. Apprenticeship schemes are particularly good for getting the best and brightest young talent into the workplace, where individuals can then learn from senior staff.
Organisations are also increasingly recognising the value of using high-level apprenticeship schemes to upskill their existing staff. In fact, 44% of apprenticeships started in 2018/19 were at an advanced level3. This is a great way for employers to invest in their people and retain their services, and it demonstrates the valuable role apprenticeships can play in developing staff at all stages of their career.
While huge progress has been made to improve the apprenticeship brand, organisations in the UK still receive half the number of apprenticeship applications when compared to graduate applications. At MyKindaFuture, we’re determined to close this gap, and ensure all young people are offered a choice when it comes to their route into employment.
We strongly believe that as long as educators, employers and the government continue to work together to address challenges in perception and celebrate the benefits apprenticeships provide to businesses and young people, we will continue to see the number of individuals taking advantage of these valuable schemes increasing.
For more information about MyKindaFuture, visit mykindafuture.com
Simon Reichwald, Strategic Lead for Talent at MyKindaFuture, the leading overlooked talent specialist, outlines his thoughts on why apprenticeships need to be seen in a new light and respected as credible options for students to consider post-school.
1 Apprenticeship Statistics Briefing Paper, House of Commons
2 Apprenticeship Statistics Briefing Paper, House of Commons
3 Apprenticeship Statistics Briefing Paper, House of Commons