Can I tell you something about myself? Like many others, I hold a degree in a subject that I do not directly use in my day-to-day work. I vividly remember 11 years ago, sitting in school umming and ahhing over what course and university I should choose. Although the experience of gaining my degree was a great one and certainly equipped me with many new skills, I was not completely aware at the time of all the other options that were available to me.
Fast forward 11 years and we now have a burst of new and exciting apprenticeships - the opportunity to earn-while-you-learn with no student debt while gaining genuine work experience. But, with so many options and opportunities out there, are students aware of all their options?
On the 1 May 2017, the Government will introduce the apprenticeship levy, an employer led strategy to encourage businesses to take on more apprentices and create new apprenticeship qualifications. In addition to this, the Government also has set a target to create three million apprenticeships by 2020. It’s therefore imperative that students are aware of what is on offer to them.
But a recent report produced just over 18 months ago found that although 74% of students would consider taking an apprenticeship, 80% knew ‘a little’ or ‘nothing at all’ about professional apprenticeships1. This means many school leavers could be missing out on the apprenticeship opportunities offered by employers simply because they are unaware of them. The majority of those surveyed also suggested they didn’t feel informed about the progression routes available to them and that the advice given to them was biased towards attending university. Even more worryingly, the students surveyed said that they were largely unaware of the fact that formal qualifications, such as degrees, could be achieved through an apprenticeship.
We need to turn these statistics around. Apprenticeships aren’t only good for the apprentices themselves; they also bring huge benefits to employers. Apprentices can improve the quality of employers’ services2 and improve employee retention, and the cost of apprenticeship training pays for itself within one to two years of completion. So with this in mind, how can employers help raise the profile of apprenticeships?
Firstly, I believe the Government, schools and employers must collaborate to provide powerful and informative messages to our young people - whether this message is between the Government and schools, or between careers advisors, teachers, tutors, parents or guardians and the young people themselves. As a key player in the construction industry, BAM Construct UK will continue to work closely with schools and colleges, sharing our opportunities and showcasing the industry’s latest technology to get students excited about an apprenticeship in construction.