National Apprenticeship Week 2020 has been and gone but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to celebrate the apprentices, the businesses who invest in them and the training providers who provide them with the opportunities to learn.
Businesses have long been, and continue to be passionate supporters of apprenticeships, and the need for high-quality training programmes in every sector of the economy is clear.
They offer a valuable combination of on and off-the-job learning, offering learners the opportunity to build a route towards a great career.
In our region, it has been great opportunity to take stock and pay tribute to all the businesses who take on apprentices and to congratulate the apprentices themselves as their efforts deserved to be recognised.
We have some real regional success stories like NG Bailey, whose group head of learning, Frank Clayton, was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list for his work promoting and supporting apprenticeships and education or Sheffield Hallam University who welcomed their 1,000 th degree apprentice as part of a new partnership with Servelec.
And for the first time, the week has been extended to include the weekend, giving the entire apprenticeship community more opportunity to get involved with activities and ensure that audiences that are less familiar can learn more.
I have been very encouraged to see so many employers, training providers and apprentices using the opportunity to promote their own stories and raise awareness of their programmes.
With National Apprenticeship Week entering its thirteenth year, everyone behind and involved in it must also #LookBeyond and consider how and where we talk about apprenticeships, to ensure that we reach all corners and communities of the country with this important message.
The CBI continues to urge businesses to recognise their role in preparing young people for the education system. This means engaging with schools and colleges and supporting young people to understand the opportunities that are available to them.
A shortage of skilled labour is one of the chief concerns of businesses, and apprenticeships is a vital way to tackle that challenge.
So, whilst the official week has drawn to a close, I’m calling on businesses to step up and assess the ways you could tangibly support schools and colleges – from offering work experience to mentoring school leaders – to inspire the next generation.
We have some fantastic employers working with us in our region with schools and colleges, and directly with young people to better inform students and their parents about what skills they need and what career choices are available to them.
But we need more people to come forward as close and regular engagement provides the chance to close skills gaps and support the growth ambitions every corner of our region has.
Beckie Hart is the regional director of the CBI