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National Apprenticeship Week 2016 focuses on how young people can rise to the top without a degree

National Apprenticeship Week (NAW 2016) is co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service and is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

The key theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2016 is “An apprenticeship can take you anywhere”, with a particular focus on higher skills to show how young people, entrepreneurs and businesses can rise to the top through traineeships and apprenticeships.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Matthew Hancock, is encouraging young people from all walks of life to apply for a Civil Service apprenticeship.

The Civil Service Fast Track programme gives people the chance to earn a competitive salary while they work towards a Level 4 Apprenticeship, gaining the skills and experience that they’ll need for a successful career in the Civil Service. Apprentices will be able to apply for roles in business, commercial, digital, finance, project delivery and communications.

The apprenticeship scheme is open to everyone aged 16 or over. There’s no upper age limit and it doesn’t matter when students gained their GCSEs.

This follows an announcement earlier in February where Matthew Hancock outlined plans to end inequality across the public sector following the release of the Bridge Report – commissioned by the Civil Service – examining why only 4.4% of successful applicants to the Civil Service graduate programme are from the poorest backgrounds and pledged to create over 200,000 apprenticeships in the public sector by 2020, of which over 30,000 will be in the Civil Service.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Matthew Hancock, said: “I am not prepared to accept unequal access and unequal progress in Britain’s top institutions. I want to see a Britain where nobody is defined by the circumstances of their birth, which is why I want to encourage as many people as possible to apply for our fantastic apprenticeship scheme.

“It’s harder to climb the ladder of opportunity if the rungs are further apart but schemes like the Fast Track help put more rungs in that ladder. By 2050 I want the Cabinet Secretary to be someone who started their career in the Civil Service as an apprentice.”

Not-for-profit IT trade association CompTIA has launched the first-ever dedicated vendor-neutral careers portal for young people looking to pursue an IT career through an apprenticeship.

The Skillsboost apprenticeships portal is a single online IT careers information resource, with critical guidance for young people who are considering doing an IT apprenticeship. It includes career roadmaps, case studies of successful IT apprenticeships and the ability to ‘test drive’ different IT job roles, as well as information on the leading apprenticeship providers and the schemes they offer. The aim is to boost the number of young people entering the industry with job-ready skills, to help tackle the sector-wide skills shortage that is affecting business productivity and efficiency.


Graham Hunter, Vice President, Skills Certification – Europe and Middle East at CompTIA, said: “Apprenticeships play a crucial role in encouraging young people into IT careers, providing a vocational alternative to university degrees and practical on-the-job experience that can see individuals quickly develop their skills in any technology platform rather than get caught up in theoretical content in academia. We’ve expanded Skillsboost to help thousands of young people find their pathway into the IT industry through apprenticeships.”

Mark Robinson, Scape Group Chief Executive, commented on the skills shortage in the construction sector and the importance of apprenticeships. “One of the biggest threats to the government’s infrastructure plans is the skills shortage in construction. Without a significant investment in construction apprenticeships in the UK we will be unable to deliver the significant pipeline of projects necessary to provide for a rapidly growing population. The construction sector must work hard to make construction apprenticeships attractive to women.

“According to data from the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, apprenticeship starts across construction, planning and the built environment stood at 18,000 in 2014/2015, up from 16,000 in 2013/2014. The increase is certainly positive but we should do more, particularly in light of the fact that, according to the Construction Skills Network, the annual recruitment requirement for 2015-2019 will be an estimated 44,690 a year up from 36,400 in 2014[2]. This equates to the recruitment of 223,450 skilled individuals over the next five years.

“The public sector has an important role to play in boosting apprenticeship take up and both the public and private sectors must work together to promote apprenticeships and bridge the gap. Procurement frameworks have wider benefits beyond time and cost savings; they impose key performance indicators relating to skills. For example, across all of our national frameworks we have so far, together with our construction partners, created 27,000 apprentice weeks – the equivalent of 563 full time apprentices. As an industry, comprised of both the public and private sector, if we adopt a holistic and coordinated approach, together we can address the skills challenge, which is crucial for the delivery of robust results and service outcomes.”

Businesses and organisations across the UK are getting involved.

Despite the benefits of apprenticeships being widely known, university still appears to be the norm for young people. New research from Barclays Apprenticeships has revealed that 61% of young people in the UK applied to university in order to satisfy their parents’ expectations.

The study of 1,000 university students found that 60% of students were worried their parents would be disappointed if they chose not to go to university, with 30% citing it as a key reason for attending. Twenty percent cited a lack of information on other options.

The study revealed that more than three quarters (76%) of students hadn’t discussed alternative options such as apprenticeships with their parents or with their teachers. This could be because parents are not aware of the wide variety of apprenticeships available to young people today, or the benefits they offer, like the ability earn and learn, and even get a degree or equivalent qualification.

Barclays has committed to providing 800 apprenticeship roles in 2016. Mike Thompson, Head of Apprenticeships at Barclays, said: “You no longer need to fund a degree at university to get a job; apprenticeships allow you to earn from day one whilst getting on-the-job training, jumpstarting your career without the debt.

“Going to university to study for a degree will always be a popular option, however many young people and their parents aren’t aware of the benefits alternative routes such as apprenticeships can offer and will often see them as a back-up option.”

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