As we look ahead to National Apprenticeship Week 2022 on 7-13 February, Gi Group UK & Ireland CEO, Paulo Canoa looks at the opportunity presented by apprenticeships as an antidote to the talent shortage the UK is facing across all sectors.

 

Businesses are facing the perfect storm. They are in the midst of a talent shortage, the “Great Resignation” and increasing costs on the horizon – in the form of the National Living Wage and National Insurance rises. Meanwhile the need to adapt to market conditions is changing at an unprecedented pace as a result of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

To tackle this challenging combination of circumstances, it is more critical than ever that businesses should embrace all available support for funding towards attracting, training or re-skilling their teams.

If you pay the Apprenticeship Levy but are not using your available funding on apprenticeships, it is a massively missed opportunity. An opportunity to support and develop the people you already have, attract new ones cost effectively and help shape the workforce you believe you will need in the future.

And the time to act is now as this year’s allocated Apprenticeship Levy funding is only available until the end of the tax year in April.

Given the current employment landscape, it is clear that businesses need to increase focus on their existing employees – upskilling and reskilling – wherever possible, as well as taking advantage of available funding to support this and weather the candidate shortage storm. And in this respect, apprenticeships could very well be the answer.

Apprenticeships allow you to enhance your existing talent pool as well as acting as a source of employee attraction, and importantly they are a low cost or even free endeavour, as they are backed by various government funding schemes. In the current climate they should be an automatic choice. A no brainer if you will.

 

While we believe the system could be enhanced further still, there are multiple benefits to running an apprenticeship programme in your organisation:

  • Pinpoint and address the skills gaps in your business – your business may face skills gaps or require new skills to facilitate business growth. By running an internal apprenticeship programme, you can plug these skills gaps at all levels – from entry-level positions to management roles – by reskilling your existing team in order to meet the specific requirements of your business at the time.
  • Freshen your business thinking – by investing in an apprenticeship programme you are investing in the personal growth and development of individuals. As a result, these newly skilled apprentices help your business to progress, develop and innovate – with fresh ideas and thoughts. By giving these apprentices the confidence to present new ideas, they will often be capable of handling complex projects with their newly acquired skills. With ‘fresh eyes’, apprentices may spot roadblocks and potential resolutions that business owners hadn’t considered.
  • Improved retention, productivity and staff satisfaction levels – data shows that businesses with an apprenticeship programme benefit from higher staff retention rates and commitment levels. Surveys from the National Apprenticeship Service has shown that 80% of companies who invest in apprentices have reported a significant increase in employee retention. More than half (57%) of employers report a high proportion of their apprentices being promoted to management position, with 72% also agreeing that improved productivity in the business was thanks to apprenticeships.
  • Futureproofing your business and brand – by putting a long-term business plan and KPI’s in place that improve your business’s training and development, your business has the workforce and processes in place to grow. A solid apprenticeship scheme is also a great way to make your business stand out from others through its investment in its people. If apprentices are happy and supported by your company in their role, it is likely they will become a sound piece and brand ambassador for your business.

 

Looking at these tangible business benefits the case for apprenticeships is clear. They also make financial sense as all businesses with a pay bill over £3 million automatically pay into the Apprenticeship Levy, and if this isn’t used by the end of the tax year this is lost. With April fast approaching can you afford to see this money go to waste?

At Gi Group UK, we have long championed apprenticeships and have seen the genuine results they deliver, both for our clients, and the apprentices themselves as these testimonials show…

 

An apprenticeship is a win-win scenario, you get a qualification, on the job experience and a pay cheque, and that’s just on the surface. Not to mention the networking and personal development opportunities!”

Ethan Nwokeforo (Level 3 Business Admin).

 

“The Apprenticeship has already supported me in my recent promotion, and it has given me the confidence which I needed to really believe in myself.”

Gemma McCluskey (Level 4 Sales Executive).

 

“The successful completion of my apprenticeship and degree qualification will enable me to enhance my career with my current employer and expand my current role into new areas. Ultimately it will help me to develop my career even further.”

James Plimmer (Level 4 Sales Executive).

 

At Gi Group we work with awarding bodies, Ofsted, the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and clients to provide high quality apprenticeship programmes which maximise the potential of our apprentices. To find out more, contact one of our team today on 01246 267 000 or InfoUK@GiGroup.com.

For further information on our Apprenticeship schemes, please visit our dedicated Apprenticeship section here.