But employers need to change ‘second rate’ perceptions, says CIPD

Business secretary Vince Cable announced that the government has met its pledge of creating two million apprenticeships over the course of this parliament.

The milestone confirms the government’s commitment to giving people the skills they need to get on, and supporting businesses of all sizes to grow their talent, a statement from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said.

To mark the occasion, Cable met the two millionth apprentice, Paige McConville, who began her Advanced Apprenticeship in Engineering Manufacture with high-tech engineering firm, FMB Oxford in August.

“Paige and her employer are a shining example of how apprenticeships give young people the chance to start a career and give businesses the talent to grow,” Cable said.

Commenting on reaching the two million target, Cable added: “This isn’t just about numbers. From space engineering, to TV production, to legal services, apprenticeships are the ticket to a great job and a route employers trust to access the skills they need.”

Earlier this year the government launched the ‘Get in, Go far’ campaign in an effort to promote apprenticeships as an alternative route to university and encourage young people to ‘earn while they learn’.  

Skills minister Nick Boles said: “Apprenticeships have a vital role to play in supporting the long term economic plan. Thanks to our reforms and through the support of employers like FMB Oxford, apprenticeships are a solid route into some of the country’s most prestigious professions.”

More than 200 employers and training providers have so far been involved in the government’s trailblazer scheme to design and lead apprenticeship schemes bespoke to their skills needs. Today the business secretary also announced the creation of 22 new employer-designed apprenticeships in professions ranging from data analysis, construction, and social care.

Katerina Rüdiger, head of skills and policy campaigns at the CIPD, said it was encouraging to see employers recognising apprenticeships as a valuable route into the labour market, but schools and employers still had work to do in changing the perception that training schemes are ‘second-rate’ to a university degree.

“Despite this steady progress, apprenticeships are still not a game-changer in the world of work. Every day, employers are creating new opportunities across a broad range of industries but there is still a low awareness of schemes, particularly amongst young people and parents,” she said.

“According to CIPD research, 40 per cent of apprenticeships currently receive just five or fewer applications and only 15 per cent of parents say that they have received enough information on apprenticeship schemes,” she added.

She urged employers to work with schools to engage young people as they approach secondary education, through careers fairs, online platforms, work experience and mentoring.

Rüdiger said these tools gave businesses “an excellent opportunity to provide young people and their parents with the information they need to recognise apprenticeships for the progressive and rewarding career paths that they can create”.