Now in its 16th year, National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) returns this month from 6th to 12th February. The week provides such a great way to bring together businesses and apprentices across the whole of the UK to showcase how apprenticeships can really transform lives, help businesses recruit and train their employees of all ages to have a positive impact on the wider community.
This year, the theme is ‘skills for life’, and looks at how apprenticeships can help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career, and businesses to develop a talented workforce that is equipped with future-ready skills.
What are apprenticeships, why are they important, and how do they work?
Despite some encouraging figures*, the early years sector is facing a staffing shortage crisis and is in desperate need of more qualified staff, this means that more staff need professional training in childcare. According to a report commissioned by the Early Years Alliance, more than eight in 10 early years providers (84%) are finding it difficult to recruit staff. The report, Breaking Point: The impact of recruitment and retention challenges in the early years sector in England, also found that 49% of providers have had to limit the number of places at their setting or stop taking on new children as a result of the crisis.
If you don’t already recruit apprentices and you are unsure where to start, read our handy guide ‘How to hire your perfect apprentice’. However, in the meantime, here are a few facts to get you started:
- 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 or standard
- 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
The benefits of apprenticeships
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 upskill 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 you or your more experienced staff might be interested in.
Here at Parenta Training, we have a team of experts who can guide you through the recruitment process and take all the hassle out of it for you. The team is up to speed on all legislation changes that occur, including grants, contributions, minimum wage, off-the-job training etc. To date, Parenta has worked in partnership with and provided support to thousands of settings, trained over 18,000 learners and helped them successfully complete their childcare apprenticeship training. We have hundreds of candidates waiting to start their childcare course, so we can help you find your perfect new staff member, completely free of charge.
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 think-ing about recruiting an apprentice and would like some help, or just some more information, check out our recruitment pages on our website.
Ideas for you to support NAW 2023
Even if you are not in a position to be recruiting apprentices right now, you can still get involved with National Apprenticeship Week and spread the word about all the wonderful things which can be achieved. You can download a comprehensive tool kit on the official website here. This useful resource includes ideas of how you can support the week, together with logos, hashtags and other helpful tips to help promote it
Apprenticeship Ambassador Network (AAN) – how to be an advocate for apprenticeships
Apprenticeship 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 or visit the new AAN website here
Apprentices in England
Apprentices in Scotland
Apprentices in Northern Ireland
Apprentices in Wales
National Careers Service
Which? guide to higher and degree apprenticeships