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Renishaw Engineering Experience
Renishaw Engineering Experience winners visit HMS Dauntless in 2013
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National Apprenticeship Week: message from Nick Clegg
Message from the Deputy Prime Minister to mark National Apprenticeship Week 2014.
The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects are being boosted in schools and colleges up and down the country as the Government seeks to narrow the current so-called 'skills gap' in the British workforce. But what about after school and college?
Apprenticeship schemes provide not only a great insight into the real working world, but can help students understand how their technical skills and intelligence can be applied. This week is National Apprenticeship Week and everybody from the Government to major think tanks to the employers themselves are encouraging businesses and individuals to consider apprenticeships.
The objectives of National Apprenticeship Week 2014 are to raise awareness, understanding and demand for apprentices; to celebrate apprentices' talents, skills, achievements and successes; and to promote apprenticeships and traineeships across all levels.
Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable stated: "It's good to see that employers are increasingly recognising the value apprentices can bring to their businesses. Apprentices are now a key and valued part of the workforce for most businesses large or small and the huge increase - which this Government has overseen - is one of my proudest achievements.
"Given the grant available to help small businesses take on apprentices, it's especially good that so many SMEs are embracing apprenticeships in the coming years and that apprentice recruitment now forms a key part of a businesses' plans for sustainable growth."
What incentives are there for employers?
Small to medium-sized businesses in the UK could be eligible for a £1,500 apprenticeship grant for taking on a new apprentice aged between 16 and 24. Employers can claim support for up to 10 apprentices. Employers can also apply for additional funding to covert the cost of training apprentices. The amount depends on the sector and the age of the apprentice but 16-18-year-olds would receive 100 per cent of training fees paid directly to the organisation providing the support. Apprentices aged between 19 and 24 get half the cost of their training paid this way and employers of apprentices aged over 25 years may only get a contribution towards training.
President of the BCC Nora Senior said: "Our message to businesses is 'take a chance and see for yourself the contribution that young people can make'. Chambers of Commerce across the UK stand ready to provide advice and support to your company if you're unsure about the process and the potential benefits to your business."
The National Apprenticeship Service is part of the Skills Funding Agency, which funds skills training for further education in England, but the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is calling for the Chancellor to introduce measures in the Budget that will incentivise more businesses to take on apprentices.
The industry body claims that demand from talented young people for places on apprenticeships continues to outstrip supply provided by employers, with some surveys indicating demand outpaces supply by a rate of 12 to one. Youth unemployment in the UK is still high at 917,000 but the introduction of new placements could help tackle this - and bring skilled potential full-time workers to the attentions of recruiters.
Moreover, the BCC is calling on the Government to incentivise apprenticeships, asking George Osborne to extend the Apprenticeships Grant for Employers scheme by two years, which would boost supply of apprenticeship places and spur investment in young people. Additionally, the group wants to see a new £1,000 time-limited payment to businesses that hire a 16-24-year-old in 2014, challenging companies to take on and train more young people looking for work.
A survey conducted by the BCC has highlighted apprenticeships as an important part of the overall British workforce, with apprentices proving themselves committed, motivated and willing to learn. Incentives to up the number of places would also benefit the economy, as research shows that for every apprenticeship created through the Apprenticeships Grant for Employers scheme, the Treasury would collect more than £30,000 in additional tax over the person's working life.
Senior said: "There are things that Government can do to encourage businesses to invest in someone who is less experienced – starting with a commitment to extend the successful Apprenticeships Grant for Employers scheme, which is set to end in December 2014 if ministers don't act now.
"Making the transition from education to work is challenging for both employers and employees. Schools and colleges need to improve academic rigour, but they also need to improve careers advice and promote apprenticeships as a viable route to a great career. They should be bending over backwards to inform their pupils of the apprenticeship opportunities available in their local area.
"Businesses, too, have a vital role to play. Their investment and their openness to taking on apprentices will determine whether the workforce of tomorrow is adequately trained up today."
Additive manufacturing apprenticeship case study: Renishaw
One major UK employer that is proud to have a successful and comprehensive apprenticeship programme is additive manufacturing pioneer and engineering giant Renishaw. Renishaw's apprenticeship scheme was established more than three decades ago and now the initiative sees between 40 and 50 new apprentices hired every year. Many of Renishaw's senior team members started as apprentices at the company, including Director of the Group Manufacturing Services Division Gareth Hankins and UK Sales Manager Mathew Favell. You can learn more about Renishaw apprenticeships here.