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Why choose an apprenticeship?

Updated: Feb 17

Apprenticeships can be a double benefit – for the apprentice and their employer. Find out the advantages you can gain from taking one on in our article.

The history of apprenticeships in this country is a long one, dating back to the 12th Century and ensuring that skilled tradesmen and craftsmen could pass on their skills. So valuable was the system that in 1563, the Statute of Artificers and Apprentices decreed that nobody could practise a trade unless they had served a seven-year apprenticeship first.

The first modern apprenticeships appeared in the 1960s, with the Industrial Training Boards laying down syllabus and standards for vocational learning. In the 1990s, learning frameworks were devised and implemented by Skills Councils for each sector. Those frameworks contained knowledge-based and skill-based elements.

Rather than just industrial areas, apprenticeships now cover a wide range of sectors including:

  • Agriculture

  • Horticulture

  • Animal Care

  • Arts

  • Media

  • Publishing

  • Business

  • Administration

  • Law

  • Construction

  • Planning

  • Built Environment

  • Education and Training

  • Health

  • Public Services

  • Care

  • Information and Communication Technology

  • Leisure, Travel and Tourism

  • Retail

  • Commercial Enterprise

How do young people benefit from apprenticeships?

1. An employee from day one.

A person who starts an apprenticeship is doing a real job for a real employer. As well as getting paid while they learn, they will also get the same benefits as other employees, such as pension contributions and annual leave.

2. No debts

Whilst university students could graduate with tens of thousands of pounds of debt, apprentices don’t have to worry about that. Their tuition fees are met by the government and they start earning from day one of their apprenticeship.

3. Experience and training

Apprenticeships are run on a structured programme that ensures the apprentice acquires the skills they need to do their job as well as they can. Much of their training takes place on the job and they have a placement (often a day a week but it can vary) with a training provider where they can study further in an academic environment.

4. Support

The apprentice’s training provider works closely with the employer to ensure that all learning goals are met and that any concerns the apprentice has are dealt with.

5. A recognised and relevant qualification

When an apprenticeship finishes, the apprentice will have a good clutch of qualifications to their name and can use them to move on to the next level.

An Intermediate Apprenticeship is equivalent to five good GCSE passes, an Advance Apprenticeship to two A-level passes. Beyond that, Higher Apprentices work towards qualifications such as an NVQ Level 4 and, in some cases, a knowledge-based qualification such as a Foundation degree.

What can apprenticeships offer employers?

How many businesses in the UK currently offer Apprenticeship places? It’s a lot more than you’d think – over 130,000 businesses have recognised how effective they are at increasing productivity, improving business performance and giving organisations a committed and competent workforce.

Why should a business recruit apprentices? Research from companies that have used apprenticeships reveals some very interesting facts and figures about the benefits that they can bring.

  • 92% of employers who employ apprentices believe that Apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce.

  • Eight out of ten employers who use apprenticeships say that they rely on their apprentices to provide the skilled workers they will need for future development.

  • Nearly 60% say that training apprentices is more cost-effective than taking on skilled staff, with lower training costs and reduced recruitment spend being two attractive benefits.

  • Many companies say that the apprentices they recruit make a valuable contribution to the business during the period of their training. A third of employers find that apprentices start adding value within the first few weeks.

  • Over half of companies say that a high proportion of their apprentices are moving up into management positions.

  • More than 75% of employers feel confident that they will use apprenticeships more often in their future recruitment plans.

  • 80% of companies who invest in apprentices have reported that they are significantly more likely to retain their employees.

  • 77% of employers are of the opinion that their competitiveness has been increased by using Apprenticeships

And consumers tend to agree with them. Eight out of ten people say that they’re more likely to use a company that takes on apprentices.

Case study – Joe

Joe is a junior web developer who joined rradar as an apprentice. When he left college and was trying to decide what he wanted to do next, he could see several options available, from university to trying his hand at freelancing. However, when he started to investigate apprenticeships, he was pleasantly surprised at what they had to offer.

When he got a chance to begin an apprenticeship with rradar, he found out just how different the rradar approach was. They had a specialised design team with web developers and it was clear that he could engage his passion for design and web development whilst receiving in depth training from skilled professionals with a passion for what they did and a desire to pass on their knowledge.

Joe was able to access training, advice and guidance, whilst becoming involved in some exciting projects and taking more responsibility for tasks of his own. A year after his apprenticeship started, he was offered the post of junior web developer. For Joe, apprenticeships were the gateway to a job that he couldn’t have accessed any other way.

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