Apprenticeships are increasingly viewed as a vital training route for both young people looking for career opportunities and businesses seeking to build their future workforces.
The Apprenticeship Levy has certainly helped to drive this, changing the face of what an apprenticeship means by allowing them to be applied to almost any job function. The new initiative has been broadly welcomed by businesses since it was introduced in April 2017. According to the Chartered Management Institute, 63 per cent of companies believe it will be essential in helping increase employer investment in skills.
Yet the take-up rate has fallen in the last year and while UK companies have laid blame on delays in approving new standards and a poor understanding of how the scheme works, the discourse around apprenticeships is still largely focused solely on the value they deliver to trainees.
This of course is nothing new. But, if the government is to encourage more businesses to fully commit to the scheme and expand their programmes then the benefits for employers also need to be clear. Apprenticeships not only offer companies a significant opportunity to ensure their workforce is equipped with the skills they need to remain competitive, but also to boost productivity and help firms access new sources of innovation.
This is something we’ve experienced first-hand at Arvato in the schemes we run across our partnerships. Many of our apprentices have helped our clients by using their digital skills to bring in new ways of working that refresh processes, reduce costs and maximise resources. For example, one of our trainees has delivered a number of training sessions on Microsoft Office shortcuts for the finance teams at Slough Borough Council, which has helped improve efficiency.
We’ve also achieved some significant results with our 12-month NVQ Level 2 programme, which provides our apprentices with a range of placements from IT to HR and customer service. Our weekly productivity gains per apprentice currently stand at £283, with each contributing an average annual economic output of £10,421, and we’re keen to build on this success by providing our trainees with a clear career path and develop our workforce skills through higher level apprentices. We’ve already taken four trainees onto our new graduate programme this year and we’re looking forward to seeing the impact this will have.
Investing in apprenticeship schemes provides a clear return on investment, not only in immediate commercial gains but in developing the skill-sets businesses will need to tackle future challenges. Boosting awareness of the benefits companies can gain will be key to ensuring the new Levy succeeds.