This week (7-13 February 2022) marks National Apprenticeship Week.
Now in its 15th year, this week aims to celebrate the important role apprenticeships play in building up young people and educate employers of the benefits of hiring new employees through alternative routes.
Although traditional academic routes have their merits for getting young people into the workforce, they are far from the only option. Integrating apprentices into an organization can be a win-win situation for all involved.
“The apprenticeship provides emerging talent the opportunity to learn new skills on the job, gain nationally-recognized qualifications and gain entry to a long term career with us”, explains Sadie Wilde, leadership and talent development partner at Node4.
“As a business, we have also benefited from a talent pool of enthusiastic, fresh-faced individuals who have become valuable members of the team.
“Our colleagues across the business also love getting involved in supporting the development of our new apprentices on our emerging talent programs.
“We also use apprenticeships to develop our people to achieve their career goals and to plug any skills gaps that we potentially have in the business.
“We’re passionate about supporting our colleagues to enhance their career prospects through gaining qualifications and an apprenticeship is a great way to build their skills and knowledge”.
Build the future
Now, more than ever, it is important to turn our focus to the youth of today. From enduring a disrupted education to starting work remotely, 18 to 24 year olds have been disproportionately impacted by the global pandemic. But there is much that can be done to aid them.
“From our work with young citizens, we know all too well that young people long to engage with society and be an active part of their community. This eagerness should be encouraged and utilized by organizations.
“The theme of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week is ‘build the future’ and that is exactly what businesses that invest in the next generation are doing.
“As the £3,000 employee incentive for apprenticeships came to an end last week, we must ensure that we are still giving the youth of today a leg up to achieve their potential. After all, they are the key to filling the ongoing skills gap and apprenticeships are a prime way to pass on these valuable skills”.
Tackle the skills gap
Young people aren’t the only winner when it comes to employees opening up new avenues into the workforce. With a global ongoing skills crisis and phenomena such as the ‘Great Resignation’ to contend with, businesses need to find alternative ways to bring people on board.
“A recent report found that 76% of IT decision makers worldwide are facing critical skills gaps in their departments – a 145% increase since 2016. And, with the ongoing ‘Great Resignation’ and the rate of technology change outpacing organizations’ existing skills development programs, organizations must cast their net wider to ensure there isn’t a dearth of talent they need in order to grow.
“In the technology industry, a formal ‘technical background’ has long been viewed as a minimum requirement to get on the career ladder. However, in some forward-thinking companies, there is a higher level of value now being placed on soft skills, such as creativity, persuasion and collaboration.
More organizations are also recognizing that employees can build specialist technical skills via alternative routes from attending university, such as apprenticeships or on-the-job training”.
Jennifer Locklear, chief people officer at ConnectWise, expands: “It is not just an opportunity to build and grow leaders, the development of digital skills means that companies can learn key skills to automate manual processes, understand the software available to streamline their businesses, and shift their focus to increased profitability.
“From an employee standpoint, showing them the roadmap for their job security and continued growth will change their focus from the uncertainty of the last year to productivity and career advancement.
“While some may view this as a short-term solution to a long-term dilemma, investing in new talent now can yield rewards for decades to come”.
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