Further education and skills – news story

People, apprentices and skills revealed as key to business expansion

National Apprenticeship Week launches with an event at London’s Shard that is designed to encourage more businesses to take on apprentices.

  • eight in ten managers see apprentices as important part of growing their business
  • new research shows the right people and skills are ten times more important to expansion than access to finance
  • apprentice employers five times as likely to rapidly expand their business
  • major UK companies commit to expanding their apprenticeship programme

New research released to mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week has found businesses place apprentices at the heart of their plans to rise to the top and rank hiring the right staff as the most important factor in helping them grow. [1]

Apprenticeships are at the heart of the government’s drive to equip people with the skills that employers need to grow and compete and today’s research shows that eight in ten managers believe apprentices are vital to their organisation’s expansion plans.

The research also showed that managers hiring apprentices were five times more likely to believe the company would expand rapidly, than those that don’t. [2]

Two thirds (61%) of managers in growing firms felt that hiring the right staff or having employees with the right skills was the most important factor in realising the company’s ambitions. [3]

The new independent research found that the right people and skills are ten times more important to businesses when it comes to expansion than access to finance.

National Apprenticeship Week launches today (Monday, 14 March) with an event at London’s Shard that is designed to encourage more businesses to take on apprentices.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid at National Apprenticeship Week launch event, London’s Shard

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:

I hope National Apprenticeship Week will inspire many more businesses across the country to commit to taking on an apprentice. Apprenticeships don’t just offer life changing opportunities to our young people, they also deliver for the bottom line. We are committed to 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 because apprenticeships are good for Britain.

To mark the start of the week, seven top companies are announcing major commitments to apprenticeships, including Starbucks, Prezzo, Fortnum and Mason, Deloitte, Greene King, BT and Addleshaw Goddard.

David Sproul, chief executive of Deloitte UK, said:

Improving social mobility is one of the UK’s biggest challenges. One of the ways in which we are seeking to address this is by doubling the number of positions available through our BrightStart Business Apprenticeship Scheme.

The scheme will provide 200 high quality apprenticeships to school and college-leavers, giving them the opportunity to study technical qualifications whilst working at the firm. For us, there is a clear business imperative to get this right. In order to provide the best possible service and make an impact with our clients, we need to hire people who think and innovate differently, come from a variety of backgrounds and bring a range of perspectives and experience into the firm. We truly value this difference.

Events that took place in the North on National Apprenticeship Week launch day included a visit to Nestlé in York today (Monday, 14 March) by Nick Boles MP, Minister of State for Skills. Mr Boles toured the KitKat factory where he met Karl Rean, food operations apprentice and Fran Igoe, engineering apprentice.

Skills Minister Nick Boles during a tour of the Nestle KitKat factory in York
Skills Minister Nick Boles during a tour of the Nestle KitKat factory in York

Nestlé York is one of the city’s biggest employers and has been offering apprenticeships for more than 55 years across a wide range of functions including commercial and technical. There are currently 146 apprentices within the organisation with 25 based at the York factory and a further 17 within the head office at the same site.

Following the Nestlé visit Nick Boles MP then visited York College to officially open its new Construction & Skills Centre - located on the College’s Sim Balk Lane campus. Nick Boles had a go at laying bricks and cutting timber during a tour of the brickwork and joinery workshops where he also met apprentices.

 Skills Minister Nick Boles opening York College's new Construction & Skills Centre
Skills Minister Nick Boles opening York College's new Construction & Skills Centre

The college was supported by grant funding through the Skills Funding Agency to build the new £6 million Construction & Skills Centre.

The new centre has been operational since the start of the academic year and accommodates full time students and apprentices studying brickwork, joinery, plastering and engineering courses.

The Minister rounded off his tour of York today with a visit to York Minster, where he tried stonemasonry under instruction from apprentices, including Sam Turner from Leeds. Sam is an apprentice that has gained experience from having worked at York Minster during the recent conservation and restoration project.

Throughout the week, employers of all sizes will be coming together to showcase how apprenticeships help them #RiseToTheTop of their industry.

Full details of the events happening across England can be found on the events map.

Follow @Apprenticeships, @TraineeshipsGov and #NAW2016 for all the latest news, pictures and videos.

To find out more about National Apprenticeship Week 2016, visit gov.uk/naw2016.

[1] Morar (formerly Redshift) interviewed 3,989 employees online in the week of 29, February 2016, of which 1,814 said their company was planning to expand. 917 of the sample were line managers in a business and 757 of the sample had co-workers who were apprentices.

[2] Almost one in five (18%) line managers claim their company is set to expand rapidly, with a further 52% saying their firm will grow more gradually. Among apprentice line managers, 25% believe their firm will expand rapidly vs 6% of those line managers without apprentices.

[3] Four in ten (42%) managers in these growth firms felt that hiring the right staff was the most important factor in realising the company’s ambitions, with more than two-thirds (68%) saying it was either the first or second most important factor. A further 19% employees stated having the right skills as the most important factor.

Percentage ranking each factor as the most important in affecting growth:

Factor All workers SMEs (i.e. under 250 employees) Line Managers Those with apprentices
Hiring the right people 41% 42% 42% 43%
Right skills 21% 21% 19% 21%
Getting more orders / clients 17% 18% 18% 17%
Creating the right reputation 10% 10% 10% 9%
Finding finance 7% 6% 6% 6%
Product / service design 4% 4% 5% 5%