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Are apprenticeships helping to close the skills gap?

 

What is the 'skills gap'?

The ‘skills gap’ describes the difference between the skills employers want and the skills that job applicants have.

According to The Open University’s 2018 Business Barometer report, 91 percent of businesses have struggled to recruit and retain people with the skills they need and are spending a whopping £6.3 bn every year plugging the gap.  Research from The 5% Club suggests that fewer than 2 percent of businesses are fully confident that their employees will be equipped to take advantage of digital developments.  Technology has already outpaced us, but is this the only issue?

The CBI / Pearson Education and Skills Annual Report shows that 60% of employers value broader skills such as problem solving and the majority prefer a mix of academic and technical qualifications.  Given the pace of change, it could be argued that employees need to be more resilient, adaptable and responsive.  But with a focus on academic subjects in school and a reduction in the number of students with access to work experience placements, it’s no surprise that young people are ill-equipped for the world of work.

Universities too are acutely aware that graduates leaving university have a distinct lack of the core skills employers are looking for with many looking to industry to help them develop ‘employability skills’ modules that form part of the degree.  One in ten graduates are unemployed and of those who are not, 50 percent are in non-graduate level jobs.  Haven’t we all heard stories of graduates unable to get employment in a field that makes use of their degree?

So are apprenticeships the answer?

Apprenticeships are work-based learning programs that enable people of all ages to earn a wage while working for an employer and studying (usually at a college, with a training provider, or in some cases at university) towards a formal qualification at the same time.

There are already more than 480 apprenticeship standards approved for delivery with as many as 1600 by 2020, offering qualifications from Level 2 (equivalent to five good GCSE passes) up to Level 7 (degree apprenticeship).  Apprenticeships are employer-led and there’s certainly a place for them in bridging the skills gap.  Apprentices start learning straight away and develop the soft skills ‘on the job’ so that by the time they get to the end of their apprenticeship they have acquired the knowledge, skills and behaviours that an employer is looking for.

More and more employers, particularly those who pay the Apprenticeship Levy, are changing their recruitment practices and developing apprenticeship programmes.  Done well, apprenticeships can bring a whole range of immediate benefits to the workplace and offer a structured, practical approach to longer-term workforce planning.

For a list of the apprenticeships that have been approved for delivery click here.

To check out apprenticeship vacancies click here.

Rubitek is one of the UK’s leading providers of apprentice and learner management software solutions that focus on completion and achievement.  Rubitek’s consultants work with employers, providers and apprentices to develop apprenticeship programmes that make a difference.  To find out more, get in touch.

 

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