The new era of apprenticeships is now upon us. The 6th – 12th February 2023 is the sixteenth birthday of National Apprenticeship Week. It is the sixteenth time the weeklong celebration has been used to promote, up and down the country, the benefits of and the amazing successes that can be achieved through apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are certainly not a new concept and have been around for much longer than National Apprenticeship Week! There is evidence of apprenticeships taking place in the middle ages when a master craftsman would share skills and expertise and sign off their apprentices as competent.
In 1563 the Elizabethan Statute of Artificers defined the terms and conditions of a seven-year apprenticeship model. This Statute was not repealed until 1814, with the early formations of the company we now know as City and Guilds, which promoted a broader range of apprenticeships. Over the next couple of centuries, aligned to the vast industrial transformations of the age, apprenticeships continued to develop. The 1959 Crowther Report and subsequent 1964 Industrial Training Act saw the state exert much greater control over apprenticeships, and numbers continued to rise.
Modern Apprenticeships were introduced in 1997, with limited impact. The Modern component of the name was dropped, and apprenticeships reformed again in 2017, following a significant review from Doug Richards, whose apprenticeship reforms have subsequently swept across the sector for the last six years. There are now more apprenticeships available to participate in than ever before, 743 including those in development. After a dip due to the impact of the new reforms and Covid-19, apprenticeship numbers appear to be climbing, and according to the latest census data shared by the Office of National Statistics in January 2023, there is a significant swing in the perception of apprenticeships and the positive impact they can have on careers and occupations.
The Richards Review and subsequent reforms have, amongst other things, placed employers at the heart of apprenticeship development. It has also ensured a new robustness and independence of competence assessment through the introduction of End Point Assessments, and by securing the introduction of the apprenticeship levy by law, it has ensured a sustainable and stable funding methodology. Ask any employer what challenges their business, their future and their profits. The vast majority will talk about skills as being a current and future major issue. Brexit and the pandemic have driven millions of workers out of the UK labour force. Huge skills shortages exist across the foundation sectors of health, construction and engineering, amongst others. Unemployment is relatively low and wages are rising.
Now is the time for apprenticeships to be taken more seriously than ever before. They have a pivotal role to play in securing the talent and skills that many businesses need up and down the country. Young people or ‘gen Z’, are better informed than ever before on the careers and futures they want; the following generation, Alpha, will be even more aware. Apprentices can be new talent or existing people developing in your business. Either way now is the time for apprenticeships to come to the fore once more. Skills are vital to this country’s economic and social success, and apprenticeships have a huge role to play!
To find out more about how apprentices can support your business and to help find the best talent, call Apprenticeships at Salford City College on 0161 631 5555 or email : firstname.lastname@example.org