How apprenticeships can drive the post-COVID recovery

With the UK’s roadmap to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic now unveiled there has never been a better time for Liverpool City Region firms to invest in skills. Tony McDonough reports

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Apprenticeships could help turbo charge the economic recovery


This week, as the Prime Minister unveiled his roadmap to recovery from the COVID-19 crisis for the UK, for the first time in almost a year there is a distinct air of optimism amongst the business and wider community – a flicker of light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. 

Since last March, businesses across all sectors have had to deal with unprecedented challenges. Many have had put staff on furlough and even make redundancies in their fight for survival.

However, in February, the UK accountancy body the ICAEW published the results of a nationwide survey of 1,000 companies. It revealed that business confidence had jumped to its highest level in five years.

This means many firms are now ready to invest to grow and take full advantage of the recovery. Critical to any business growth plan is skills. Recruiting the right people is the key to increasing productivity and profitability.

So there has never been a better time to consider what apprenticeships can bring to your business. It’s a huge opportunity and one that too many businesses are still missing out on.

Government figures published in November 2020 showed the number of people beginning apprenticeships was 322,500 (18%) down from 2018/2019. Here are five reasons why apprenticeships can turbo-charge your growth:

  • You can mould an apprentice from day one to fit in with your business needs and its culture. Hiring people ‘off-the-peg’ with previous experience can be more time-consuming and expensive. People may be used to working in a different way and have to undergo a period of orientation. An apprentice can become the person you need to be who fits right in with your business needs.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses quickly had to adapt to different ways of working. This has accelerated the pace of change, particularly in areas such as digital technology. New and existing staff will need to adopt new skills as the recovery gathers pace. Apprenticeships are a cost-effective solution to upskilling your business.
  • There is no upper age limit on apprenticeships. The traditional view of an apprentice is that of a young person coming into the workplace for the first time. While it is a fantastic way to bring enthusiastic young people into your businesses, apprenticeships can also be used to upskill your existing workforce, and this makes no difference to their existing terms and conditions.
  • You may be surprised at the range of skills, knowledge and behaviours covered by apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are delivered from Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) through to Level 7 (Masters’ Degree equivalent) and while the benefits of training are clear employers can also access a minimum of 95% of training costs, as well as current incentive grants for recruiting new apprentices. 
  • An apprentice is an investment in the present and the future of your business. It provides individual with the opportunity to acquire new skills through a structured learning programme and an opportunity for employer to grow their own talent.  

So, if you are thinking about how you can recruit and/or upskill your existing workforce and need advice and support on what to do next then contact the Liverpool City Region Skills Brokerage Service, part of Growth Platform, the city region’s growth company. 

This is an expert team of skills brokers who can explain how employers can access funding, identify the right apprenticeship standard and find the right training provider to deliver the training. save businesses, large and small, time and money.

The Be More Apprenticeship Portal also offers Liverpool City Region-based employers the opportunity to advertise their apprenticeship vacancies, free of charge, and there is no need to register or create an account before doing so.

The Skills Brokerage Service is one-stop-shop where businesses can find a wealth of advice and support on all funding available for skills across the Liverpool City Region and can even provide 70% of training costs for bespoke training required by employers which wouldn’t be funded through any other publicly funded route.

If you are an employer in the City Region looking for skills or apprenticeship advice and/or funding then you can register here. This service is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and Strategic Investment Fund (SIF).

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