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National Apprenticeship Week – here are 5 things you must know about apprenticeships | #NAW2024

National Apprenticeship Week – here are 5 things you must know about apprenticeships | #NAW2024

If you have been part of the apprenticeship space in 2023 – be it as an awarding or assessment organisation (AO), a training provider, or an apprentice – you will have no doubt seen how much it has evolved in such a short space of time. 

Now having reached the 17th National Apprenticeship Week in February 2024, the importance of apprenticeships as part of our national skills strategy has never been clearer. 

Across the UK, government and businesses are turning to apprenticeships to grow, innovate, and compete. It’s not just because we want to invest in their skills for life – it’s because we need them to support the transitions we’re making for a sustainable future. 

With #skillsforlife as this year’s theme, we wanted to share 5 things you absolutely need to know about apprenticeships this #nationalapprenticeshipweek.

The apprentice pipeline is filling

One of the most important choices a young person has to make is their path after secondary education. In the context of inflation, a cost-of-living crisis, and high competition for jobs, it’s no wonder that apprenticeships are becoming a more and more appealing option. 

However, it’s not the negative factors that are pushing young people towards apprenticeships.  

According to research by Eon, 2/3 of school leavers are seriously considering apprenticeships over University 

Their motivators? The earn-as-you-learn pathways that secure jobs across fields as diverse and technical as Law, Earth Sciences and even Space Engineering, which is evidence of government and industry recognising the rigorousness of the apprenticeship journey.

Apprenticeships are going toe-to-toe with Degrees

More young people are considering getting #skillsforlife with apprenticeships, but part of the recent surge in apprenticeship uptake is in no small part due to their increased prestige. 

The ongoing Degree/Apprenticeship shift shows how apprenticeships are standing toe-to-toe with exceptional university education in terms of the comprehensiveness of the programmes and post-completion outcomes. 

In particular, Degree Apprenticeships combining on-the-job experience with degree study at some of the UK’s most prestigious universities are opening up opportunities with equivalent BA and MA awards to more people who otherwise wouldn’t traditionally access a university education…  

Since even graduates themselves can take on apprenticeships post-programme, too, it’s proof that it’s never too late to take advantage of the opportunities that apprenticeships offer.

Apprenticeships are the lynchpin of the green transition.

You may have heard about a handful of ‘green apprenticeships’ announced during the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III: this is just a snapshot of what is actually a seismic change in the apprenticeship landscape. 

With the Government aiming to fill 2 million green jobs by 2030, and a ‘green toolkit’ of green KSBs built into every apprenticeship standard, old and new, sustainability is at the heart of an ambitious, ongoing national skills strategy based around apprenticeships. 

It’s not just new green apprenticeships that are being developed, either. Sustainable thinking is embedded into every apprenticeship – from those in business and administration to marketing and project management – showing how industry and government believe in the power of apprenticeships of all kinds to fuel a holistic green transition.

Bridging the (skills) gaps

It’s no secret that with the ambitious targets to meet net zero, we will experience profound changes to the way we live and work – not least in how we travel, with an even more imminent ban on combustion engine vehicles. 

However, the transition will only be successful as long as there are skilled people to fuel it. By 2030, the IMI predicts 8-11 million EVs will be on the road, but we will need 16,000 more TechSafe engineers to install and maintain them. 

Likewise, a quarter of firms already believe that they are experiencing an AI skills gap, and with the government aiming to triple our national solar PV capacity by 2030, apprenticeships in AI and PV installation are being launched to bridge the skills gap.

Apprentice success is in the hands of AOs and Training Providers

The apprenticeship sector has seen incredible support – be it from companies like Jet2 who have funded new Travel Agent apprentices for up to £5,000 each, or from bodies such as UCAS who have helped propel apprenticeships to the same level of prestige as university degrees. 

However, the fact remains that apprenticeships have a lot of potential to fulfil – despite higher achievement, apprenticeships starts in 2022/23 were down 3% on the previous year. Moreover, though reduced, nearly half of apprentices still drop out from their courses – with a shocking 70% citing the quality of delivery as the reason. 

It just goes to show that for all the faith placed in the apprenticeship ecosystem, it will only advance as fast as AOs and Training Providers can innovate the apprenticeship journey. 

The manual processes, admin burden, and transactional relationships that have afflicted the sector for so long are slowly being phased out, and all-in-one, universal platforms for managing EPA, such as epaPRO are automating and streamlining these outdated processes. 

They also turn the apprenticeship journey from something that happens to apprentices into something they actively participate in, with tools that engage them, and a platform for inspirational collaboration with every stakeholder invested in their success. 

If you want to learn more about epaPRO, and how it is making those delivering apprenticeships faster, more effective and more efficient, don’t hesitate to book a demo to see what it could look like at your organisation.