Apprentices are the new gold

As Christmas approaches, I offer two pieces of advice. One... sit down, relax and ‘binge watch’ the fantastic American cult TV show - Orange is the New Black and two... check out the emerging cult among young people throughout the UK - apprenticeships.

I recently visited the magnificent Skill Show in Birmingham, a careers event that brings employers, young people and their teachers and parents together. What struck me was the diversity and quality of workplace skills that were showcased through the 60 live competitions across five vital skills areas: engineering, construction, IT and business, services and social and creative.

The entrants looked enthusiastic, were totally engaged and enjoying what they were doing. Competition winners will become part of ‘Squad UK’ at the ‘WorldSkills’ event to be held in Abu Dhabi. More importantly, all entrants have a great opportunity to become apprentices - to earn while they learn the skills that will set them off on a rewarding career.

At STEM Learning Ltd, we recognise the value of investing in apprentices for the same reasons as would any organisation, be it large, small, public, private or charity. So, if you are a teacher or parent, why not check out what is happening in the world of apprenticeships? They offer exciting and rewarding career paths for young people. If you are an employer, an apprentice could help develop your business and bringing one in is really not as hard as you might think.

Why STEM Learning invests in apprentices

We need their skills

Like any organisation, our success is strongly linked to the quality of our people. Our apprentices are a major part of our success and succession planning.

Apprentices make great business sense

Change will always happen. Home grown talent is able to apply what they know to make change work. For example, Alan Oakden joined us in 2010 as an IT apprentice and, in his current role as Support Liaison, was able to bridge the gap between the culture of system users and providers during the successful roll-out of our new booking system.

We practice what we preach

STEM Learning exists to help ensure that young people enter the world of work with the STEM skills employers need. To achieve this we recognise that the promotion of vocational and academic career paths should be equal.

Apprentices will help rebalance our economy

The UK has the lowest productivity amongst the G20 countries—30% below Germany, the US and France. This has many root causes, not least a lack of investment for many years in technical and vocational skills. This is why the Government has set itself the target of achieving three million apprenticeship starts by 2020.

We can draw upon the Apprenticeship Levy

Last month in his budget, the Chancellor launched the Apprenticeship Levy to be paid by all employers with a salary bill above £3m pa. Expected to raise £11.6bn, the levy is by a long way the single biggest new revenue raising item and will fund apprenticeship support.

We are in good company

Many successful organisations already know the value of apprenticeships and have great apprenticeship programmes. At Volkswagen, their programme ensures the organisation has the skills it needs in the future while addressing issues of ethnic and gender imbalance within its workforce. In April, they celebrated the award of Apprentice of the Year with a high octane graduation event where apprentices raced around a speedway circuit.

We are proud of our apprentices

We currently have three apprentices within our own organisation. Each are highly valued and contribute to the success of their departments. This year Lauren Armstrong - our Finance Apprentice - won the award for York Apprentice of the Year 2015. We are proud of them all and value what they bring to the business as well as what we can offer them.

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