National Apprentices Week

View Latest News Publish Date: 2-Feb-2010

National Apprentices Week

This week is National Apprenticeship Week, celebrating the commitment of employers to recruit apprentices and urging people to look at the benefits to their skills and career of becoming an apprentice. Major UK employers are expecting to hire thousands of apprentices in 2010 and the government is encouraging all businesses to take up the new Apprentice Grant for Employers (AGE) scheme offering a £2,500 grant for each 16 or 17-year-old apprentice taken on.

One company committed to apprenticeships is Morrisons the Yorkshire based supermarket chain. Business Minister Pat McFadden has congratulated Morrisons for its commitment to make 5,500 Government-funded Apprenticeship places available by July 2010.

Pat McFadden said:

“For so many businesses to be planning to recruit in 2010 is good news for the whole economy. It shows employers increasingly recognise the benefits they get from hiring apprentices. Undertaking an apprenticeship is a great way of learning a trade and gaining vocational experience. In 1997 apprenticeships had dwindled as a route for people to gain new skills, today we have 239,900 starting Apprenticeships and businesses of all sizes are reaping the rewards of having a highly skilled workforce. Skills will be crucial to a strong economic recovery and I urge employers across the country to take the chance apprentices give them to boost their competitiveness, innovation and growth this year.”

Morrisons will be creating more than 20,000 Apprenticeships in the next year, and offers training in Bakery, Butchery and Retail Skills, at level 2 (equivalent to five good GCSEs). The supermarket is just one major UK employer making a commitment to Apprenticeships this week. Crossrail has made a commitment to take on 400 apprentices in the next year through it’s contractors, and B&Q has said it aims to double the its Apprenticeship intake to 300 this September.

Apprenticeships Minister Kevin Brennan said:

“In the last year we have seen a record increase in the number of people starting an apprenticeship. The benefits are clear and this week I am urging businesses and young people alike to take a close look at what they can gain from them. Skills will be key to the recovery of the UK economy and apprentices can be vital to businesses looking to innovate and grow. I am proud so many businesses are hiring apprentices already. Last year 143,000 people completed an apprenticeship, helping to give them the skills and experience they need to get on at work.”

New research commissioned through the National Apprenticeships Service and the British Chambers of Commerce shows that more than three in five UK companies plan to recruit this year, while 72% of businesses who currently employ apprentices said they made a positive contribution during the recession. The good news for young people considering Apprenticeships is that drive and enthusiasm is the trait most prized by employers (83%) while having skills that the business will need in the future is also sought after (71%).

Simon Waugh, Chief Executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said:

“The time is absolutely right for businesses of all sizes to take on apprentices. Our research shows that firms who take on apprentices have been in great shape to face the downturn. Last year saw a seven per cent increase in apprentices; that’s 240,000 people starting their careers with the best possible training and the determination to succeed. What continues to surprise me is the number of companies who still haven’t switched on to apprentices and the value they bring to businesses.”

David Frost from the British Chambers of Commerce said:

"The recession has taught us two key things: that businesses' long-term commitment to investment in their workforce really pays off, and that young people must be effectively brought into employment. Apprenticeship programmes offer both of these factors. We would strongly advise our members, and indeed all businesses, to consider apprenticeships as part of their recruitment strategy."

Tom Wilson, Director of unionlearn said:

'Unionlearn welcomes the celebration of apprenticeships this week and urges employers to use the £2,500 Government grants for 16 and 17 years olds to be taken on to the scheme. The TUC is working with employers to ensure that these are robust qualifications that lead to real jobs and pay fair wages. Unionlearn trains reps in the workforce to support and mentor apprentices during their training.'

Members of the Work Place Learning Centre team are available to provide journalists and media organisations with expert comment on all aspects of learning at work.

View our editorial policy click here.