Apprenticeships: nurturing the next generation of green industry workers

Posted on 12 Feb 2024 by The Manufacturer

Kelly Becker, Zone President of Schneider Electric UK and Ireland has seen first-hand the huge benefits apprentices bring – and argues these are crucial for businesses to plug regional skills gaps while helping progress the government’s focus on green jobs.

Some of the best people I’ve worked with have scaled the ranks by starting out as apprentices. Apprenticeships offer a dynamic and fulfilling career path, fostering both technical and interpersonal skills that will set talent up for success throughout their careers. Not to mention the vital role these will play in the green economy. Crucially, apprenticeships also play a key role in equipping people with skills that are vital in the burgeoning green economy.

With National Apprenticeship Week now over, one of the biggest takeaways should be for more businesses to open themselves up to the huge benefits that apprenticeship programmes bring. Apprenticeships tend to be more technically focused, but on the job training also allows apprentices to learn softer skills too – and this mix of technical and interpersonal skills supports quicker progression routes while equipping apprentices with the skills they’ll need for future roles. At Schneider Electric, we have clear workforce plans in place for apprentices to become qualified within five years, which also enables us to plan our workforce more effectively.

There is huge potential for the green economy as we move towards decarbonisation, but this must be supported by ample talent and technical expertise. Our research shows 247,000 jobs can be created in the UK by adopting clean energy technologies. Green apprenticeships will play a vital role in this, supporting the UK’s push to electrify our homes, vehicles and businesses and move away from fossil fuels.

Apprenticeships offer an alternative career path to nurture the next generation of industry workers, while creating robust talent pipelines for key green industrial hubs up and down the country. At Schneider Electric for example, more than a quarter of our UK apprenticeship placements will be in Leeds. This is a key manufacturing base for us and one that is fuelled by rising demand for sustainable innovation in emerging markets such as electric vehicles.

We’re also proud to be doubling the number of opportunities for our Schneider Electric UK & Ireland apprentice scheme this year. We know that apprenticeships create skills for life, but we also appreciate that there is still a general lack of awareness in the market about their benefits. Often, people don’t know where to start, or perceive roles to be limited to manual labour.

When launching a green apprenticeship, businesses can play a vital role in changing perceptions. This means working with education providers to increase the understanding of the opportunities available around apprenticeships and how this can help businesses to innovate at every level, bridging progress and sustainability.

Whether you’re just starting out, or looking to change career, apprenticeships offer an opportunity to gain a well-rounded perspective of how a business operates. Not only that, but apprenticeships offer a great platform to innovate and contribute to the future green economy – something appealing to people’s increasing preference to choose organisations focused on sustainability, particularly among the younger generations.

From quick progression to building robust talent pipelines across the UK for green industry to thrive, the benefits from apprenticeships are clear. Organisations need to seize the opportunity – doing so will help to build a brighter, more sustainable future.

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