National Apprenticeship Week 2023

A Celebration of Apprenticeships – National Apprenticeship Week 2023

A Celebration of Apprenticeships – National Apprenticeship Week 2023

In this blog we reflect on National Apprenticeship Week 2023 (6th - 10th Feb) and look at what apprenticeships mean to the Construction Industry.  Three of our Directors started out as apprentices and we at SM5 Developments feel very passionate about apprenticeships and how they can help get more people into the industry.  Whenever we recruit for a position, we purposefully look at whether we can do this through an apprenticeship either for one of our existing staff or a new hire. 

There is still an opinion that apprenticeships are only for teenagers/school leavers and they only take an apprenticeship because they weren’t very good at school.  This could not be further from the truth.

In April 2017 apprenticeships as we knew them changed. A number of things were introduced including apprenticeship standards.  This meant that businesses of varying sizes now had input into how the apprenticeships were set up and what was in the qualifications.

Each new standard (i.e., apprenticeship/qualification) has its own business led group called Trailblazers. That group will consist of specialists from that industry, who understand that specific job role and government representatives. They discuss each individual job role and what they want it to input into the business. They will develop the apprenticeship from there. Once approved that apprenticeship is reviewed at least every 3 years.  This keeps the skills and knowledge apprentices gain up to date and beneficial for business. The apprenticeship is no longer aimed towards just gaining a qualification but around equipping the apprentice with the skills, knowledge and behaviours that they will need in order to fulfil that role effectively and to a high standard.

Let’s look at some of those other apprenticeship porky pies!

Apprenticeships are just for spotty teenagers right: There is no longer an upper age limit on apprenticeships. This is to help promote retraining and crossover of industries for the individual and to help lifelong learning. Anyone over the age of 16 can undertake an apprenticeship if it applies to their job role. A paper published by the House of Commons showed that of the apprenticeships started in 2018/19 the largest increase was by those aged between 35 and 44.

An apprenticeship is only for people that weren’t very good at school: You can now study a Masters Degree as an apprenticeship. An apprentice will need to demonstrate the skills, knowledge and behaviour required to undertake that job role. The higher the level of the apprenticeship the more academic it becomes.  In the period between 2019 and 2022, 29% of apprentices trained within the Construction Industry 29% of those were on Level 6 (degree level) and Level 7 (Masters level) programmes. 

Apprenticeships are just lower quality training and aren’t as good as College/University education: Each apprenticeship is delivered through a Government approved training provider.  The difference between an apprenticeship qualification and a full-time qualification at college or university is the added value of the work-based experience it delivers. Not only does the apprentice earn an industry approved qualification but they also have the experience of putting their learning into practice straight away, on an ongoing basis thus further embedding the learning and knowledge for that individual

There’s no value to a business in hiring an apprentice: In a survey by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills 77% of employers believed that apprenticeships made their organisations more competitive. 81% of employers surveyed said that their apprentices have aided improving overall productivity. 92% also stated that their apprentices have led to a more motivated and satisfied workforce. An apprentice can often bring a fresh approach and fresh ideas as well as a positive attitude into the workplace which can rub off on existing staff. By undertaking the apprenticeship, they are showing themselves as wanting to learn and are generally keen to bring in the new thing that they have learnt to help the business grow and improve. Apprentices come from all walks of life including high calibre candidates who do not want the lifestyle or debt that going to university offers

I am a construction company and I pay the CITB levy so that means I’m an apprenticeship levy payer, right? Wrong – the CITB levy you pay covers essential training etc and is very different from the apprenticeship levy. The apprenticeship levy is paid by those organisations who have a payroll bill of £3m per year or more regardless of industry and that money is used to pay for apprenticeships only whereas the CITB levy is used for other things.

I can’t afford to lose my member of staff for most of the week. That is true, which is why apprenticeships are about upskilling an individual. Some apprenticeships can be delivered flexibly for example as part of each day, one day per week, one week out of five or block release etc. This can be met by their day with their training provider or can be at their usual place of work or at an external location. It can include the teaching of theory, practical training, writing assignments etc.

I don’t have time to hire new staff to send on an apprenticeship : Whilst this may be true, apprenticeships are not only for new starters. Employers have access to the same funding to be able to enrol existing staff onto an apprenticeship. This will help aid with staff retention and show staff that you value their skills and think they are worth investing in whilst also saving the company recruitment costs at the same time!

Next time you have a vacant position will you consider an apprentice?

 Melinda Smith
 13th February 2023
fit-out / refurbishment / maintenance / aftercare / bespoke furniture / leisure & retail / office / automotive / healthcare / retail / industrial

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