The Lowdown on National Apprenticeship Weekby
With National Apprenticeship Week just round the corner the media buzz is beginning to mount. If you’re unsure what the event is about or what’s going to be happening, read on to find out more.
What is National Apprenticeship Week?
National Apprentice Week, coordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), is put on once a year to celebrate the positive impact apprenticeships have on individuals, businesses, local communities and the overall economy.
This year the week will run from March 11 – 15 and the theme is Apprenticeships Deliver; this theme feeds into an overall goal to herald in the New Era for Apprenticeships, defined by wider recognition of the business and economic benefits of apprenticeships and increased uptake of the apprenticeship scheme nationwide.
What’s happening during National Apprenticeship Week?
Organisations across the country – including businesses, public sector organisations and schools – are putting on activities raising the profile of the apprenticeship schemes on offer. Hundreds of events have already been planned. Full details of events being held across England can be found on the Apprenticeships website.
The National Apprenticeship Service has already announced a preliminary list of major announcements, events and milestones during the week. Here are a few:
- Job swaps – across the UK CEOs have swapped places with apprentices for the day and the events recorded on film, which will be released during the week
- 24/7 Apprentice – apprentices across the country will use social media to build up a profile of their working day – use hashtag #247apprentice or Storify (http://storify.com/Apprenticeships) to follow the coverage
- An online ‘Hall of Fame’ will be created on the NAS website to showcase apprentices that have achieved high levels of success in their field
- The Brathay Apprentice Challenge will run throughout the week – 90+ teams of apprentices will compete to become ‘apprentice team of the year’ by running projects that benefit local communities
- Breakfast meetings for employers and young people will be held in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle on Monday 11. All five events will be linked by satellite and will hear from a number of speakers, including Vince Cable.
- The ‘Made by Apprentices’ (#Madebyapprentices) scheme will launch on Wednesday 13 – this showcases apprentice talent and their contributions to the country’s economy. A photoshoot will record apprentices signing their names on well-known products they have helped create
- Tthe fourth National Apprenticeship International Conference arrives at The Digital Enterprise Centre in London on Thursday 14 – this important event will debate the role apprentices play in economies across the world
What else does the week involve?
New scheme launches are often put out during National Apprenticeship Week as there’s already media attention on the issue. This year, for example, a new Legal Higher Apprenticeship will be launched on March 11 in London, which will provide law firms with an additional route for recruiting into paralegal positions, as well as giving legal hopefuls an alternative option to university.
I employ apprentices! How can I get involved?
Awareness-raising is the name of the game. Why not put on a local event advising other employers of the benefits of employing apprentices? Alternatively if there are plenty of apprenticeship schemes in your area but few sign-ups, put on an event for young people who may not know they can sign up for apprenticeship schemes. If you do decide to put on an event, don’t forget to submit it online and it’ll go onto the NAS website.
What are the main benefits of employing apprentices to employers?
- Sustainable recruitment pipeline: uncertainties around recruitment can be mitigated by introducing an apprenticeship scheme. Employers will have more knowledge and control over when apprentices will be leaving and when new ones will be joining
- Oodles of motivation: apprentices are enthusiastic and full of new ideas, which can bring passion and motivation to the workplace.
- Plugging the skills gap: apprentices are there to be guided by your existing talent and can help to plug existing skills gaps through a combination of internal and external training
- Good ROI on training: apprentices will be learning and working at the same time so you are reaping the rewards of their work at the same time as they develop valuable skills
How do apprenticeships work?
Apprenticeships are vocational qualifications, combining practical work-based training with theoretical study. They take between one and four years to complete and by the end those on the scheme will have experienced gained through being in the workplace as well as a recognised qualification.
Applicants must be over 16 and not involved in full-time education to be eligible for an apprenticeship. There are four levels of apprenticeship offered:
- Intermediate: equivalent to five GCSE passes
- Advanced: equivalent to two A Level passes
- Higher Apprenticeships: leads to NVQ Level 4 or Foundation Degree
I’d like to start taking on apprentices. What do I do?
Great news! There are four steps to taking on an apprentice:
- Contact the National Apprenticeship Service (0800 150 6000) who will help you identify a suitable training provider that will provide the theoretical element of the apprenticeship
- You confirm with the NAS how many people you employ and the number of apprentices you’d like to take on
- The recruitment process begins – vacancies are posted on a central apprenticeships jobs site and you begin to receive applications
- You go through a selection process and bring the successful apprentice(s) on board
Also, if your business employs up to 1000 people you may be eligible for a grant of £1500 should you take on an apprentice.
Jamie Lawrence is Insights Director at Wagestream, a financial wellbeing app that makes money less stressful for people in work. Founded by a group of leading financial charities, Wagestream's mission is driven by their social charter: everything they build must improve financial wellbeing. Jamie was previously Managing Editor of HRZone,...
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