Cambridge Independent Column: ‘Apprenticeships Work’ - National Apprenticeship Week 2018 

It has been said that if you don’t know where you are going, you will never get there. Today, in an ever changing workplace, many students leave school not knowing what they want to do and choosing the right step can be difficult. But one thing is certain, that an apprenticeship can offer a great training and a good future. 

Over the last few years I have seen some fantastic companies offering apprenticeships in a variety of industries – from engineering and catering to dress making and IT. Increasingly those leaving school are understanding the benefits of learning on the job. Employers, too, are appreciating that teaching young students the exact practical skills needed in their workplace has important advantages.

National Apprenticeship Week is now in its 11th year.  It highlights how businesses and individuals are succeeding so that other employers and more young people will be encouraged to offer and take up apprenticeships.  

The theme for this year is ‘Apprenticeships Work’. This is reflected by statistics which show over 90% of apprentices currently go into work or further training. In Germany, the apprenticeship system which is very well established and admired globally, caters for about 60% of the country’s young people.

As part of the week’s initiative an event for employers in our region who may be considering hiring an apprentice and would like to learn more, is being held at The Maltings in Ely on Friday March 9th.The event, which is being organised by Enterprise East Cambridgeshire, will run from 11 am to 2 pm and tickets are free to book via the following link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/employer-event-apprenticeships-work-tickets-42559235820  A number of local companies will be talking about their experience of hiring apprentices including Corkers Crisps whom I visited a few weeks ago.  Since forming the company in 2010, they have grown to a team of over 100 people and are now one of the UK’s most iconic crisp makers. Having apprenticeships as part of their company has been an important contributor to their success.

Other events taking place in the region include a number of Apprenticeship Jobs Fairs organised by Cambridge Regional College. For full details go to www.camre.ac.uk/event/national-apprenticeship-week-2018/  In addition ‘Form the Future’s’ annual conference titled, ‘Equipping Young People with 21st Century Skills’ has lots of interesting workshops on offer including one exploring what the advent of T-levels and expansion of apprenticeships will mean for schools and businesses. Anyone with an interest in how we build a skilled workforce and good career opportunities for young people can register to attend the conference being held at Linton Village College on Wednesday 7th March at www.formthefuture.org.uk/AGM.

Aside from the events taking place this week, prospective apprentices can look to see what apprenticeship vacancies are available all year round at gov.uk searching by keyword (job role, occupation type or apprenticeship level) and by location.

Training locally and recruiting locally saves money, reinforces community and boosts the local economy. Apprenticeships are also important to ensure we have more students working in STEM careers. They are also the key to businesses successfully plugging their skills gaps and home growing their future workforce in adequate numbers. 

Apprenticeships do work, and with greater awareness they could work for more individuals and more businesses.