This month sees the return of National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), and this year will be the 15th week-long celebration of everything to do with apprenticeships. The week runs from the 7th – 13th February and is a great way to bring together businesses and apprentices across the UK to showcase how apprenticeships can transform lives, help businesses recruit and train the staff they need and have a positive impact on the wider community.

In 2019/20, there were 719,000 people participating in an apprenticeship in England, with 322,500 apprenticeship starts and 146,900 apprenticeship achievements.

There has been an 18% decline in the 2nd quarter of 2020/21 due to the impact that the pandemic has had on businesses and the government are keen to see the number of apprenticeships being undertaken rise again, especially since there has been a disproportionate negative impact on those starting apprenticeships who are aged under 19, and on those on intermediate level schemes.

The theme of NAW for the 2022 week is “build the future” to reflect not only how apprenticeships can help people develop their own knowledge and skills to build a rewarding career, but also to emphasise how apprenticeships can build a ‘future-ready’ workforce that has the skills that businesses need. There has been much made in recent years about the skills gap that businesses are finding with some graduates – that they may have academic degrees or Level 6 and 7 qualifications, but they do not have the skills and knowledge needed in today’s workplaces.

According to the London Councils’ website, despite the rising population, there are skills gaps in many industries. They report that:

“Many employers are facing skills gaps. 28,300 London employers report that not all their employees have the right skills for the job. Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of all vacancies in London are due to a lack of applicants with the right skills, while almost half of firms (42 per cent) are not confident they will be able to recruit people with the higher-level skills their organisation needs over the next five years.”

What are apprenticeships?

An apprenticeship is a real job where the apprentice works, earns money and is an employee of a company with a contract of employment and holiday leave. During the apprenticeship, the apprentice is given training (usually by a relevant external agency working with the employer) of at least 20% of their working week to complete their studies, leading to a nationally recognised qualification. Apprentices can be school leavers, university students or people who just want to upskill or change their career, and employers can offer apprenticeships to existing or new employees.

Apprenticeships are usually a 30-hour week contract and run for a minimum of one year to four years, although some extended apprenticeships for part-time workers can take up to 6 years. They are available in over 1,500 job roles including childcare, project managers, social care, retail, and advanced engineering and construction. The Level 2 apprenticeship is the ‘intermediate level’, which is equivalent to GCSEs but there are also Level 3 apprenticeships equivalent to A’ Levels, and they go up to Levels 6 and 7, which are equivalent to a degree. As an employer, you can get funding from the government to help pay for apprenticeship training.

Parenta has helped many childcare businesses recruit and train a new generation of professional childcare practitioners at entry level and up to management levels, so if you are thinking about recruiting an apprentice and would like some help, or just some more information, check out our website at: https://www.parenta.com/looking-for-an-apprenticeship/

The benefits

There are many benefits to both apprentices and employers which include:

As an apprentice

  • You get a real job and ‘earn while you learn’
  • No fees to pay off such as tuition fees or student loans
  • You can start aged 16 or over

As an employer

  • Employers can adapt their training to meet the needs of their business
  • You gain a motivated workforce that is eager to learn
  • You can expand and up skill an existing workforce
  • Depending on the size of your business, you can get financial help to pay for the apprentice. This can be 95% or even 100% if recruiting younger people under 19.

According to the government website, 86% of employers said that apprentices helped them develop skills relevant to their organisation; 78% said apprentices helped them improve productivity and 74% said apprentices helped them improve the quality of their product or service. So there really are many positives benefits for both sides.

Apprenticeships working with children

There are many apprenticeships available working with children. Subject to the normal checks on people working with children, you could be an apprentice teacher, teaching assistant or early years educator, helping children get the most out of their education in a school or nursery setting. There are also specialised apprenticeships available for working with children with SEND or challenging behaviours so these might be something that your more experienced staff might be interested in.

How to support NAW 2022

Even if you are not ready to recruit an apprentice, you can still join in with National Apprenticeship Week and spread the word about the good things that can be achieved. The government have produced a comprehensive tool kit which you can download here. It includes ideas and information about supporting the week as well as logos and social media assets ready to use to help promote it. There is a section for people to browse currently available apprenticeships, an events listing of over 1200 virtual and in-person events across the country, as well as many real life stories and testimonials of how apprenticeships have worked for many people of different ages and starting points.

There are ideas from graduation ceremonies to thank you days and on Sunday 13th, you can join in with ‘Selfie Sunday’.

There is also an Apprenticeship Ambassador Network (AAN). Ambassadors are volunteers who “champion apprenticeships to raise awareness and increase engagement to meet the needs of employers, communities, and individuals across the country.” There are 9 regional AANs who are organising local activities for NAW22 so why not contact your local network by emailing AAN.CHAIR@education.gov.uk to find out more?

For more information, see:


Apprentices in England

Apprentices in Scotland

Apprentices in Northern Ireland

Apprentices in Wales

National Careers Service

Which? guide to higher and degree apprenticeships

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