National Apprenticeship Week: Why employers should offer alternative routes into the workplace

For National Apprenticeship Week, Jo Caine, Managing Director of Cathedral Appointments shares her thoughts on why employers should offer alternative routes into the workplace.

Last year, UCAS – the governing Higher Education body – saw a record number of applications for degree apprenticeships than ever before. Combining study with real-world experience, the desire for many young people is to gain valuable business skills long before they fully enter the workplace, to ensure they stand out in an incredibly competitive hiring market.

However, while the news is positive for higher level apprenticeships, the same cannot be said for entry-level ones. The London Progression Collaboration found that, since 2014, there has been a 72 per cent decline in entry-level apprenticeship uptake. This steep downward trajectory risks leaving young people in the lurch. With many companies, especially SMEs, not taking on apprentices with the same vigour that they used to, the knock-on effect this can have on poverty levels and unemployment figures is troublesome.

To combat this crisis, it’s down to employers to encourage the next generation of workers to at least consider the apprenticeship route to begin on the path to a successful and progressive career.  This National Apprenticeship Week, we explore three key reasons why you should look to take on apprentices in 2022.

To improve innovation and plug skills gaps

According to recent research, 86 per cent of employers have said that apprentices have helped them develop relevant skills to their organisations and nearly three-quarters said apprentices have helped to improve the quality of work and services. Most apprentices join the workplace from education and bring with them fresh perspectives and insights that could be the start of something completely unique for your organisation and stand you a head and shoulders above the competition.

Additionally, with most apprentices being completely clean slates from a business perspective, they can be moulded in whichever way works best for your company. Training and learning can be shaped in such a way whereby your business gains skillsets that it has never had before or has always needed to take that next step to greater success.

To diversify your talent pool

Apprenticeships, differently to many other traditional routes of entering the workplace, are far more accessible to a wider group of people. They are open to anyone and everyone and play an important part in levelling the field when it comes to entering the workplace. Through apprenticeship schemes, employers are far more likely to have access to a much more diverse talent pool, which may have gone untapped if the traditional graduate hiring route was the only process considered.

To positively impact your bottom line

The business case, from a financial perspective, for taking on apprentices is second-to-none.

  • According to the National Apprenticeship Service, 81 per cent of consumers favour a business or brand that takes on apprentices. A sure-fire way to help increase sales and improve brand reputation.
  • According to research from Babington Group, the average apprentice can increase productivity by £214 a week.
  • Companies who employ apprentices see a very low rate of turnover. Seeing as losing a member of staff and having to replace them can cost a company over £30,000 per year, strong levels of retention are a clear money saver.

While the vast uptake of higher-level apprenticeships is promising, the rapid decline of entry-level uptake is cause for concern. The case for hiring apprentices is multi-faceted and will undoubtedly have a positive effect on your business, both culturally and financially. This National Apprenticeship Week, take the time to think about how an apprentice could reshape your business for the better.