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Craig Iveson Cumbria Lep

Apprenticeships are so Important for the county’s Economic Health

Published on: Tuesday 5th March 2019
Categorised under: Work , Apprentices, Cumbria, Economy, Recruitment

CUMBRIA’S employers have a successful track record of growing their own talent through apprenticeships from intermediate (level two) through advanced (level three) to higher at level four and above.

Apprenticeships form a crucial part of the response to the skills challenges within the Local Industrial Strategy.

The strategy, currently under consultation, focuses on the Cumbrian economy delivering inclusive growth for businesses and residents. It also aims to improve skills levels, increase the county’s workforce and assist employers in developing workforce development solutions.

Apprenticeships equip people with the skills employers need to grow, and also provide employers with a unique way to grow their own talent.

Employers cite a number of reasons why having apprenticeships can boost and add value to their business, including:

Improved productivity

Almost nine out of 10 businesses believe that taking on apprentices is good for productivity, and 83 per cent say that an apprenticeship scheme helps to boost productivity of the whole business.

Fewer skills gaps and lower recruitment costs

As the competition for skilled people increases, apprenticeships allow businesses to effectively fill their skills gaps and plan ahead. Higher level apprenticeships, which offer degree level qualifications, enable existing employees to develop their careers internally, thereby reducing recruitment costs.

A better return on investment

In addition to the long-term financial benefits of employing apprentices, the Government estimates that employers can recoup their investment within 24 months.

The building blocks to a brighter future

Apprenticeships help to shape the future of a business by bringing in fresh skills and talents to assist in the development of a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce. This in turn provides effective ways to meet future skills demand, reduces recruitment costs and improves staff retention.

Apprenticeships enable employers to secure new talent for their organisation and also provide those in the workforce with a way to develop their skills because the learning is in their work setting, combining practical skills with theoretical knowledge.

This is crucial as employers are looking for employees with job specific skills and work experience.

A key challenge for Cumbria is to develop apprenticeships that meet the county’s requirements for higher level skills.

A higher level apprenticeship is a very attractive route for employers and individuals who, on average, could earn £150,000 more than a level three vocational qualification over a working lifetime.

The apprenticeship system is going through a number of changes which is impacting on the delivery processes. These include the introduction in April 2017 of the Apprenticeship Levy for those organisations with an annual pay bill in excess of £3m.

The levy, which currently stands at 0.5 per cent of pay bill, must be used on the training of apprentices. Previously recognised apprenticeship frameworks are being gradually replaced by employer-driven standards which focus on the bespoke needs of employers.

Previously, apprenticeships were reserved for traditional industries such as construction, engineering and business administration. However, as business has evolved so have apprenticeships so that there are now in excess of 170 industries and over 1,500 occupations were apprenticeships can be found, from aerospace to accountancy, hospitality to health and social care, logistics to legal and plumbing to publishing.

There are also challenges for our Careers Education system, and the LEP has responded to employer wishes to secure a careers education system that ensures young people and adults are aware of the apprenticeship opportunities available to them and also routes in via the national Apprenticeship Service, and the skills required to secure these opportunities.

We are determined to work with employers and our vibrant skills sector to deliver high quality apprenticeship provision.

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