During National Apprenticeship Week, the National Apprenticeship Service in partnership with the Birmingham Post, Birmingham Mail and Coventry Telegraph, supported by a network of West Midland private training providers, colleges and employers, launched the 200 in 100 Challenge, to make a difference to the lives of people and businesses in the West Midlands area.
We challenged more employers across the West Midlands to employ an apprentice and to sign-up to the campaign, so that we could open the door for West Midlands people to enter the world of work, through an Apprenticeship. This would allow them to earn whilst they learn, and to give them the qualifications and foundations for a bright career.
The West Midlands business community have answered our call.
We ran employer and apprentice success stories in the papers and on our websites every week and companies contacted the National Apprenticeship Service and training providers and colleges directly saying they were looking to employ one or more apprentices. At the same time we received an endless stream of enquiries from young people ready to start work but who didn’t quite know how. We simply put the two together through our Apprenticeship vacancies matching service on the Apprenticeships.org.uk website.
To date, the campaign has succeeded in getting 120 companies to offer 171 Apprenticeships, with an expectation of exceeding our 200 Apprenticeship milestone by the end of the campaign. As a result many employers and young people have bright prospects for the future. They are now working for large multinational organisations, local authorities, family-run businesses and fledgling companies.
In the West Midlands there are a total 895 Apprenticeship vacancies available on the Apprenticeship vacancies website, with a high number in retail, business, administration and law, engineering and manufacturing technologies and health and public service.
NAS are continually advertising new Apprenticeship opportunities from new employers of all sizes and from all sectors, in occupations such as Early Years Practitioner, Pharmacy Technician, Equestrian, Electro-Mechanical Integration Engineer, Inspection and Non-Destructive Testing, Quality Control, Test Rig Engineer and trainee Quantity Surveyor. To view more Apprenticeship vacancies go to www.apprenticeships.org.uk/apprentices
Karen Woodward, Divisional Apprenticeship Director, National Apprenticeship Service – Central said: “This has been an exceptional campaign and underlines the true motive behind the challenge – to begin a shift in attitudes towards Apprenticeships and help individuals and businesses understand the benefits they can bring. For businesses they are a financially efficient way of bringing enthusiastic people into their workforce, giving them the chance to invest in the future of their companies.”
She continued: “For young people just leaving school they provide an opportunity to earn a wage, gain valuable experience of the world of work and, vitally, gain recognised qualifications that will stand them in good stead for the future.”
In these economically-challenging times, when new university students face the possibility of debts of £36,000 when they graduate and with unemployment at about 2.5 million, the Apprenticeship programme is a lifeline for all.
During this Challenge, Apprenticeships have remained high on the Governments agenda and a £1.5 billion investment has been made to continue the development of the levels, quality and availability of Apprenticeships.
John Hayes, the Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, which includes Apprenticeships, said: “The Government is committed to increasing the number of Apprenticeships. They provide the opportunity for people to earn while they learn, and the training opportunities they offer are key to supporting this country’s growth and success. I believe that Apprenticeships should be the primary work-based learning route for employers to follow.
He added, “We have launched an Apprenticeship recruitment incentive, known as AGE 16 to 24, to attract more first-time small-medium sized employers to follow the Apprenticeship model. A grant of up to £1,500 is available for small-medium sized organisations who recruit a young apprentice aged 16-24 years. This is being managed by NAS.”
Karen Woodward added: “I’m delighted that so many West Midlands employers have responded positively to the campaign and are seeing the positive benefits Apprenticeships are having for their business.”