National Apprenticeship week; a reminder of our work future post COVID

“Apprenticeships are a hugely important part of the economy and are crucial for businesses of all sizes for long term growth,” says apprenticeship guru and director of The Apprenticeship Management Group, John Henry.

This message, from the company that looks after apprenticeships for the Electrical Distributors Association, comes in the wake of National Apprenticeship Week (8-14 February). With the theme, ‘Build the Future’ aiming to encourage everyone to consider how apprenticeships help individuals to build the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career.

The 14th annual week-long celebration of apprenticeships, taking place across England, will showcase the impact apprenticeships can have on communities, local businesses and regional economies and how they all benefit from the impact of apprenticeships.

With a majority of industries being affected and impacted by the global pandemic and the restrictions it has brought in, there is “no better time to shine a light on the apprentices and apprenticeship suppliers about how they are involved with training tomorrow’s workers,” John adds.

“Although not as immediately shocking as the first lockdown the latest stay at home demands have raised greater concerns for both employers and their apprentices. Many have just re-established themselves into a work routine, incorporating PPE and social distancing, but will again test the sustainability of hard pressed businesses for many reasons.

“Whilst employers within the sector are able to continue to supply to a relatively buoyant construction sector, the number of colleagues that can coexist within the merchants and distributors is a consideration that must be addressed.“

Preliminary figures for the most recent financial year suggest a further drop of 13% up to April, at which point the statistics were suspended in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. John Henry also addresses the worry that so many apprentices face in light of the current lockdown rules: “As the young apprentice is often the last in they are fear that they may be the first out. Thankfully, excellent planning, within the working environment, part time furlough options and the support of trade associations have helped alleviate some concerns the creeping although the cost of national insurance and pension contributions transferred to the employer means that a conscious decision must now be made for each and every employee.“

The Governments Kickstart programme looks to provide young people with employment and training opportunities without breaking the bank of the employer.

The initiative allows Employers to offer a six-month funded work placement. These placements are open to young people aged 16 – 24 who are at risk of long-term unemployment and are currently claiming Universal Credit.

“Kickstart and apprenticeship incentives have generated renewed interest in planning the future intake of young people for many employers but the inability to meet; interview and scope new job roles will have an impact. The prospect of a vaccine roll out is obviously an extremely positive focal point. I would urge employers to plan their employment an engage with all of these initiatives now rather than in three months or so. It will take some time to advertise and source the best candidates for your business so plan now either through Kickstart if you are not sure or the apprenticeship route if you remain confident of a positive bounce back.

“One of the advantages of an apprenticeship is that the individual will develop their relationship within the sector of choice and build a reputation within the working environment. They understand more about the workplace and what to expect, as opposed to going in cold after A-levels or a three to four year traditional degree.” John urges young people as yet undecided “If you have an industry you would like to work in you can now earn, learn and advance your career at the same time,” John concludes.

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