AGR Blog

National Apprenticeship Week 2017 - what it all means

06.03.17

To start the National Apprenticeship Week 2017, Sharon Spice, Director of Global Student Recruitment of ICAEW talks of how not enough firms know about the Apprenticeship Levy, even with the business benefits it can bring...

 

I read recently that ‘A third of employers who will be eligible to pay the Apprenticeship Levy from April are not aware of its existence, according to research by City & Guilds’. This surprised and worried me if I’m being honest.

As a professional body, we’ve spent a great deal of time working with employers to ensure they are up to speed on the levy, as it impacts all businesses in some way, whether they are paying it or entitled to draw down from it. I’m also aware of some of the great work the other professional bodies and associations have been doing to increase awareness across a variety of sectors. Yet this research highlights there is even more to be done, and there’s not much time to do it!

As a group of connected individuals, we need to help raise awareness so that more businesses understand the implications of the levy and the associated benefits of hiring apprentices.

I’ve also read (I like my statistics) that, in addition, three-quarters (74%) of SMEs that employ apprentices reported increased productivity, while almost all (96%) cited at least one business benefit to hiring an apprentice. What great statistics to have in your back pocket if you’re struggling to get buy-in to offer apprenticeships within your organisation.

It’s not just organisations  (perhaps your own) that sometimes need convincing of the business case for hiring apprentices, its encouraging schools, colleges, students and parents that apprenticeships offer attractive benefits for the hires. Agreed, the apprenticeship route might not be for every learner, but it should be seen as an important option meriting careful consideration. Especially when the average university debt in 2016 came in at a staggering £44,000 (Sutton Trust). Earning while you learn is an increasingly attractive alternative for many.

At ICAEW, we want to make sure that the next generation of ICAEW Chartered Accountants know they have a choice about how to enter the profession. We’ve found great value in using our networks to talk to parents, teachers and careers advisors about apprenticeships as a real alternative to university. For the last nine years, we’ve been running a national business competition for school and college leavers, BASE, which has allowed us to see just how bright and ambitious this generation are. It’s clear that young people like having options and like the fact that our sector (among others) is highly accessible. And we’re delighted to see that some of the competition’s alumni have gone on to kick-start their careers in organisations through various higher apprenticeship, school-leaver schemes and university.

Apprenticeship Week presents a great opportunity to raise awareness of apprenticeships – I hope you will join in on the discussion.

 

Read more about the National Apprenticeship Week on gov.uk.

Don't forget to register for our free Developing Degree Apprenticeship event on Tuesday 6th June in Brighton. Please click here for further details.

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