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Making the choice between an apprenticeship and university - is the UK realising the benefits of on-the-job learning?

* Making-the-choice.jpgApprenticeship schemes are becoming increasingly popular as people look for more cost-effective, debt-free routes to gaining experience and full-time employment.

This article, by property maintenance provides Novus Property Solutions, outlines some of the reasons that apprenticeship schemes are becoming a firm favourite among young people.

* 509,400 UK apprenticeship schemes commenced in 2015/16, 9,500 more than the previous year.
* Between August 2015 and January 2016, more than 11,000 higher apprenticeship schemes started.
* With 1 in 4 jobs going unfulfilled due to the UK skills shortage, industries look to apprenticeship schemes to fill the gaps.

"The last couple of years have seen a tremendous surge in the number of apprenticeships offered in the UK, with 509,400 courses beginning in 2015/16.

The number has grown by 9,500 since 2014, and shows no sign of slowing down. This is definitely a good thing; given that one in four jobs go unfulfilled because of mass skills shortage, according to a report by the UK Commission for Employment & Skills.

Apprentices not only fill our skills gaps, they do so in a cost-effective way, which affords businesses more freedom to nurture the next generation of talent.

Having worked with a wide range of apprentices, we are well positioned to advise you on just how we all benefit from such schemes.

The apprentices themselves, receive personalised, practical learning skills which set them up for future roles within the industry. With an applicable skillset provided by qualified professionals, the apprentice learns from a mentor-like figure who can help them to climb the ladder.

We spoke to a number of experts on the matter, gaining crucial insight into the value of apprentices in our current job market.

Lukas Vanterpool, director of The Sterling Choice, a recruitment agency catering largely to the food and engineering industries, believes youngsters have plenty to gain from an appenticeship scheme, and says:

'In essence, the apprentice is securing a role, income and opportunity that they are not necessarily qualified for. Often the apprenticeship they secure is one that is of genuine interest to them, so they get to work in a role that they are genuinely passionate about. This is an offering of a career without the need for a three-year university degree'.

By getting your foot in the door, as it were, great strides can be made in gaining full-time employment from your apprenticeship. Novus has a long-standing history of bringing apprentices through the ranks.

It's not just the young trainee who benefits, of course. Beyond job prospects and personal development, those working elsewhere in the business can also learn something from the apprentice.

Your business will benefit from some fresh perspective...

Richard Daniel Curtis, founder of The Mentoring School - a platform offering training and advice to businesses that take on apprentices, believes that young people who are new to the industry can invigorate the workplace and bring a healthy dose of enthusiasm.

'Employing millennials through apprenticeships is a fantastic way of injecting new energy and creative ideas into a business,' he says. 'The way apprentices approach problem solving is vastly different from other staff and that can often lead to new and innovative ways of working. When using technology, for example, apprentices are often keen to improve processes, or find ways of speeding them up.

'This can have a knock-on effect. Apprentices bring new perspective, fresh insight and often a different way of looking at things. They can be incredibly inspiring for full-time employees.

'More than the impact on the processes, an apprenticeship also helps to develop staff, giving them the opportunity to mentor and nurture someone inexperienced.

'The development of these interpersonal skills has a knock-on impact for the way they support other members of staff, potentially having a far wider impact.'

...and so will your business' recruitment!

If your business is encountering a skills shortage or recruitment problem, you might consider an apprentice to inject a little more enthusiasm. They are an ideal solution, and will relish the opportunity to make an impression.

Lukas Vanterpool of The Sterling Choice provides some further insight:

'They are hungry for the opportunity, they want to learn and are fresh with new ideas without many preconceptions. In many cases there is little fear and they are open to making mistakes.

'Notoriously, apprentices are younger and other members of the team are open to helping them and pass on their knowledge which in turn improves communication and

An apprentice's enthusiasm can often be infectious, and with an open and willing attitude toward pitching ideas, receiving feedback and helping others, apprentices can really be a breath of fresh air.

Apprentices help the economy (and vice-versa). It's clear that bringing an apprentice in can offer numerous benefits, and the UK government is catching on. Only last year, the Apprenticeship Levy was announced, giving employers an allowance of �15,000 to fund new schemes. It will be rolled out in April this year.

Back in 2015, it was pledged that three million new apprenticeships will be introduced by 2020, making UK apprenticeships a particular focus for the future.

Furthermore, for young people it's a debt-free alternative to university, lessening the strain on grants and student loans (which cost both the UK government and the student long-term).

Elaine Rowlands, head of HR at global commerce solutions provider PCMS Group, says:

'Apprenticeships have long been talked about as an alternative to university - however, it's paramount that young people see them as a credible and viable option that will support them in their chosen career path.

'By bringing in the Apprentice Levy last year, the government sent a strong message - both to employers and to prospective apprentices - about the value these schemes bring, economically and at an individual level.'

The value of apprentices is being realised, and on a massive scale. The economy will benefit, and this will only enhance the demand for building services across the UK.

Richard Daniel Curtis of the Mentoring School, is enthusiastic about the change, saying:

'Apprenticeships will also have an impact on the economy, encouraging more young people to consider a viable way of exploring career routes, rather than spending time in the traditional education system.

'With the options to be able to do higher level apprenticeships in the future, this is more and more appealing for them, providing a financial boost to the economy too rather than them starting their careers with a large amount of debt.'

Between the apprentice, the colleagues, the business owner, the business itself and the wider UK economy, there is a wide range of benefits to be had from apprentices. It's a win-win situation all around.

Findings indicate a great surge in popularity: A report published by the House of Commons Library in November 2016 found that over 500,000 apprenticeships commenced in 2015/16, with a jump of almost 10,000 courses compared with the year previous.

This suggests that, although a little over 500,000 people started university that same year (2015/16), apprenticeships are catching up at a considerable rate as attitudes towards practical learning improve.

Money is a clear concern, which is where apprenticeships gain the upper hand. As tuition fees are at an all-time high, an increasing number of people are looking to apprenticeship schemes as a way of furthering their prospects without the inevitable student debt.

Head of HR at Novus Property Solutions, Stuart Cavanagh, comments:

'For a long time now, university has been almost a natural choice for young people. While higher education is still as popular as ever, apprenticeship schemes are truly growing in popularity with scores of people preferring on-the-job learning.

'The increasing rate of schemes becoming available can only mean good things for the industry. It feels like the UK is finally seeing the benefits of apprentices, and it's been a long time coming. Apprentices come into a place of work with a brand new perspective, they're often open to new ideas and are keen to learn.'

If apprenticeship schemes continue to grow at this rate, a new generation of tradespeople will be ready to step in to fill jobs belonging to a diverse range of industries."

Novus Property Solutions delivers a wide range of services to sectors as diverse as housing, education and healthcare, and have more than 28 offices in the UK.

T: 01782 237249
W: www.novussolutions.co.uk

16th February 2017

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