Business Secretary Vince Cable will launch National Apprenticeship Week this morning at an event in Westminster, which is just the first of over 500 activities involving thousands of employers and learners planned this week.
The 2012 National Apprenticeship Week is the fifth annual celebration of vocational skills in Britain and the launch ceremony will this year be broadcast on Channel 4.
The launch, held at the headquarters of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills in London is to be attended by representative from industry and education as well as current apprentices and key players from sector skills councils like Semta and Cogent, and trade organisations such as, EEF and SMMT.
This year’s National Apprenticeship Week comes on the heels of the release of figures showing a national rise in the number of apprenticeship starts across England in the academic year 2010-2011. This amounts to a total of 457,200 apprenticeships starts – an increase of 63.5 per cent on 2009/10.
This increase was seen across regions and sectors, though Semta have identified a far higher level of traction for engineering apprenticeships in England’s northern regions than the South or Midlands.
Commenting on this trend and the importance of apprenticeships to the future prosperity of UK industry Philip Whiteman, CEO of Semta said: “It is vital that businesses take a long-term view when considering their skills needs. Apprenticeships take 18 months on average to complete – and up to four years for Advanced Level apprenticeships – so employers need to consider their current workforce and think about where they might be in a few years, implementing solutions to tackle challenges in the future, now.”
To help more employers take on apprentices government representatives will be taking advantage of National Apprenticeship week as an opportunity to highlight new cash incentives being introduced from next week.
Incentives are focussed on SME businesses and include a £1,500 payment for a firm taking on its first apprentice as well as other incentives for employing jobless 18-24 year olds.
Speaking of the recent rise of apprenticeships as a form of vocational learning Vince Cable commented: “I am very proud of the fact that at a time of financial constraint this Government has prioritised investment in apprenticeships. This has led to the creation of record numbers of apprenticeships combined with tough new standards to drive up quality.”
He continued: “We are providing extra help to enable small employers to hire their first
apprentices. We will also continue to develop new advanced and higher-level apprenticeships to deliver the world-class skills individuals and firms need to get ahead.”