National Apprenticeship Week Ends – Any Impact?

Image of trainees and apprenticeships

Are appprenticeships an important way for young people to gain a productive foothold in their working life?

Schools, colleges and employers as well as the young person have a role to play but so often apprenticeships are seen as ‘nice to do’ but fail to inspire and build the skills of the young person. Managers often find the experience embarassing as they try to keep the individual occupied but are not really sure how they should develop the individual’s skills and outlook on their next steps.

Do Your Apprenticeships Provide a Valuable Exposure?

If apprenticeships are to become both a respected and valuable experience for both young people and employers, then we need to invest more time in making managers more confident in delivering a beneficial experience for the individual and prove to employers and ’employees’ and parents that apprenticeships are fit for purpose. A fixed period of time as an apprentice is not the measure.  The measure is what he/she has been exposed to during the apprenticeship and what skills have been acquired in dealing with the issues and honing those skills through that exposure. [1]

Employers need to consider how to equip their managers to deliver an effective apprenticeship so that the individual becomes an ambassador for the organisation because of the exposure and skills gained. Employers can also help schools and colleges to whet the appetite of young people to seek an apprenticeship as a valuable passport to their working life and not just as something to do.

Schools and Employers Must Bridge Learning Gaps

The ping pong match of criticism between employers and schools needs to stop.

Schools must require of employers a work placement in which young people will be exposed to work situations in which they have to learn and apply their skills but also achieve the sense of pride from seeing results from their efforts.   Work experience placements are often just a change of scenery and not a change in outlook for the future.  Such placements should whet the appetites of the young people to seek an apprenticeship.   Employers need to invest time in helping schools to see where the bridging of learning gaps is required and how both the employer and school can reduce those gaps.

Converting Awareness of Apprenticeships into Successful Recruitment

‘Teenage Apprenticeships – converting awareness to recruitment’ is a recent report by Education and Employers Research which draws out the distinguishing marks of schools/colleges which are more successful in that conversion.

Employers should note that it contains,

“The results of interviews of employers who were, “invited to share their experiences of hiring apprentices directly from schools and colleges. They were asked a series of open ended questions in order to identify the skills and attitudes employers feel young apprentices, in particular the successful candidates possess and which they feel they are lacking. They were also asked to comment on the recruitment process.” [2]

Employers, schools and colleges could use the report as a starting point to examine whether their work experience placements and other recruitment type events turn on or turn off young people from considering an apprenticeship.

Let us make 2018 the year in which young people being to see apprenticeships as an effective route into employment and developing key skills for their working lives.


[1] Exposure v Experience – the better way to identify capable, adaptable staff by Jim Harrington, October 2012

[2] ‘Teenage Apprenticeships – converting awareness to recruitment’ report by Education and Employers Research – see report at

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