With a target of three million apprenticeships to meet between 2015 and 2020, the government has introduced its apprenticeship levy. For businesses with a wage bill of more than £3 million, contributions will equal 0.5 percent of their salary bill.
The amount of UK businesses affected by the apprenticeships levy will be in the region of 2%. It is hoped that the levy will encourage businesses to invest in apprenticeship’s when otherwise they may not have. For every £1 businesses pay into a ‘digital’ apprenticeship levy fund they get a top up of 10 pence from the government. This allows businesses to then fund their own apprenticeship schemes.
Businesses (SMEs) not affected by the levy will also benefit from the new scheme. For them funding will be made available through unused levy funds (those over 18 months old).
The hope is that the levy will encourage those who may not have hired an apprentice to do so. The levy will also put employers in charge of their own training. This in turn should push the quality of apprenticeships up.
Industry apprenticeships still however face an uphill struggle…. Whilst there has been an increase of 24% in apprenticeships numbers versus a 2% in Graduates, apprenticeships are still failing to be attractive young people. Recent uptake numbers are still too low.
Figures for 2015/2016 show that whilst apprenticeships stood at more than 500k (with approx. 78.5k apprenticeships being in Engineering and Manufacturing.) Unfilled vacancies for skilled workers for the same period were at the 200k.
So why are Apprenticeships still struggling to attract young people?
There has always been a problem with perception for starters. Apprenticeships tend to bring less prestige than a university education and are often thought of as the poor relation to a degree.
A lot of schools and colleges (and parents) are still pushing the University route.
It is not widely recognised that higher apprenticeships are on par with foundation degrees. Some even bachelor.
Apprenticeship types not widely publicised.
Overall a general lack of information.
The NCFE carried out a survey across 2000 parents with school age children in March 2016 . See the result from the survey below.
So, what are the benefits if any of an apprenticeship?
For young people
Apprenticeships give young people the opportunity to learn. They gain a nationally recognised qualification while getting a weekly wage.
Starting at both general and advanced levels they cover a wide range of skills. The kind of work will depend on the size of the company as well as its specialisations.
Matched to the company’s future needs an apprenticeship ensures that the correct skills are developed. This allows for filling any skills gaps. Sourcing future managers and leaders from within.
Apprenticeships at DNC Electronics
DNC Electronics currently employ two apprentices. They have really seen how investing in their training can offset the skills shortage by both improving labour supply and improving retention rates.
We spoke with one of DNC Electronics current apprentices and asked them how they ended up on the apprenticeship programme.
With both a Father and Brother being in the industry they always knew that they wanted to do something in engineering but didn’t quite know what. Having left school with 14 GCSE’s they started a BTEC Level 3 Engineering course at Swindon College before their tutor suggested that they may want to think about doing an apprenticeship.
With help from Swindon College, they were able to take part in some work experience to ensure this was the correct route to take with this leading to successfully securing the apprenticeship at DNC Electronics. They have since completed their BTEC and started an NVQ Level 3 in Electronics and PLC (programmable logic controls) at Swindon College.
With support from DNC Electronics, they have also had the opportunity to undertake (in addition to the above) a BTEC Level 4 HNC Diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Newbury College. This course is offered via a day release programme, and they are nearing the completion of the first year of the two-year course.
On completion, students benefit from having a nationally recognised qualification that offers career progression for those already in employment. Students may progress to an HND or further related study at a higher level.
So why did they choose to go down the route of an apprenticeship?
They believe that an apprenticeship offers the best route into work . It allows you to continue learning but also to start earning some money.
Following completion of the HNC they hope to progress their knowledge further and complete the HND offered by Newbury College. This they believe will allow them to stay focussed. Improving their work based skills and quality of work. From there our previous apprentice is completing his degree in electronics at UWE.
More information on apprenticeships and the areas of engineering apprenticeships are available in can be found at The Institution of Engineering and Technology.