The lifting of pandemic-related restrictions in the UK should help the economy grow, notwithstanding the global economic impact of the war in Ukraine. But filling the jobs this will generate may be a significant challenge.
Advocates of apprenticeships as a means of providing the training required to avoid skill shortages and maximise the opportunities for recovery will highlight their usefulness to employers and employees alike, but a significant barrier to their widespread adoption is the fact that apprenticeships remain the subject of a host of misconceptions.
Covering topic, the Norwich-based Eastern Daily Press published a list of five myths about apprenticeships that should be dispensed with, which were listed by Chris Starkie of New Anglia Apprenticeships, a training provider working in Norfolk and Suffolk.
The first is that apprenticeships are just for young people, with Mr Starkie noting that adult retraining has been increased by new innovations such as degree apprenticeships. This factor might be especially of interest to those who have become stuck in a rut with their existing jobs and need a change.
A second, very damaging myth is that apprentices are poorly paid. Mr Starkie stated that there is a minimum wage for apprenticeships, but employers can offer more than this, commenting: “It’s important to consider the salary to make sure you attract and retain the best candidates.”
The third myth is that apprenticeships only relate to trades and construction, with Mr Starkie listing digital and ICT, marketing, business administration, nursing and physiotherapy as other professions where apprenticeships now provide means of entry.
To this, of course, one may add beauty therapy, forklift truck drivers and security jobs, for the list is indeed a long one.
Fourthly, there is the notion that apprenticeships do not offer the same opportunities as degrees, a concept that has been given traction by a traditional emphasis on going down the academic route, especially in recent years when there have been more university places.
In reality, however, many apprenticeships can train people up to degree level roles. Moreover, unlike those in full-time higher education, they involve being paid while training.
Finally, there is the idea that apprenticeships are only for new recruits, when in fact they can be for existing employees wanting to be trained in new areas.
The reality is that apprenticeship providers are able to offer a much wider range of opportunities and options than those with outdated and inaccurate perceptions might think.
However, it is not just that apprenticeships can be beneficial for those who take them up with ambitions of developing a great career. They are also essential for economic growth, Head of Growth for the Joint Industry Board and Electrotechnical Certification Scheme Andy Reakes told IfSec Global.
Mr Reakes said people should look beyond the “myths” that consider apprenticeships as only for school leavers, noting that the pandemic has shaken up the economy and has prompted many to consider changing careers.
He said: “Ever-changing technology, particularly in the electrotechnical industry, means we are constantly looking to fill a widening skills gap, representing a great opportunity for job seekers and employers alike.”