National Apprenticeship Week: skills shortages can be plugged by apprentices

If your industry is facing skill shortages, perhaps you should invest in apprenticeships, an opinion that has come forward during National Apprenticeship Week (3rd-7th February).

Will Moir, head of Learning and Development (L&D) at Energy Assets, an independent metering and utility network construction business said:

The energy industry faces significant skills shortages in key areas, notably engineering, so we took a decision in 2018 to address some of these challenges in-house by investing in an apprenticeship programme. Of course, our aim was to grow the skills we needed for our company but we also recognised that there was a wider industry challenge to address, which was to help develop a pipeline of talent for the future health of the sector.

The programme sits alongside our recruitment of more experienced people, but one of the biggest benefits we have seen is the speed with which apprentices apply IT skills to their roles. This, together with an enthusiasm and willingness to learn – and some valuable fresh ideas – has impressed everyone across the organisation, including those at senior management level.

Still, City & Guilds Group research shows there is still a stigma surrounding apprenticeships as half (50 per cent) would rather go to university than do an apprenticeship (30 per cent). This is despite people believing apprenticeships outrank university education in terms of value for money (57 per cent vs 5 per cent), the longevity of skills (39 per cent vs 13 per cent) and preparing young people for the workplace (54 per cent vs 6 per cent).

John Druce, L&D manager at Arqiva a communications infrastructure provider, states that businesses must continue to address misconceptions around apprenticeships in order to leverage the opportunity they bring.

Mr Druce said:

With the engineering industry facing a huge challenge in terms of attracting new talent – the sector reportedly needs 1.8 million new engineers by 2025 just to meet demand – businesses must continue to address misconceptions around apprenticeships in order to leverage this opportunity. Apprenticeship schemes can be the making of dynamic, highly skilled workforces that provide both stability and adaptability in testing times.

Since launching the Arqiva apprenticeship scheme in 2008, our programmes have evolved to provide practical, job specific skills in high demand areas across business, engineering and even management, meaning our schemes permeate every area and level of the company.

In January 2020, HRreview spoke to Aaron Jeffries, apprenticeship programme lead at Covea Insurance regarding the apprenticeship market.

Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.