Britain’s Brexit must boost skills, say apprentices

Britain’s young apprentices have called upon the new Government to put skills and qualifications at the very top of the agenda in Brexit Britain, with the unveiling of a five-point plan to help them do just that.

A report by the Industry Apprentice Council (IAC) has delivered a damning verdict on careers advice, an issue it is calling to be urgently addressed in the wake of Britain’s Brexit from the EU.

The report to be handed to Nadhim Zahawi MP, government adviser on apprentices and joint chairman of the Apprenticeship Delivery Board, states:

  • Careers advice is still in crisis – dropped back to 2014 satisfaction levels
  • 50% of respondents found out about their apprenticeship through their own initiative – just 15% found out from a teacher or careers adviser
  • Only 24% were actively encouraged to take up an apprenticeship by educators
  • 84% had not heard of the planned Apprenticeship Levy
  • 70% are unaware of the Government’s 3 million apprentice target
  • 75% want a professional accreditation as standard

It is also calling for professional qualification as standard to ensure apprenticeships get the recognition they deserve and quality is maintained.

The results of the IAC’s biggest ever survey shows an alarming lack of information regarding the opportunities that apprenticeships offer.

Chief operating officer of the Semta Group, which founded and funds the IAC, Al Parkes commented: “Home grown skills have never been more important to this country –especially in a post Brexit Britain.

“Our young apprentices have spoken – and should be heard.

“They are the very people who can speak with authority and conviction having experienced the process at first hand.

“The new government must put skills at the very top of their agenda if the country is to thrive outside the EU.”

The five-point plan to boost apprenticeships formulated by apprentices themselves, will seek to:

  • ensure the quality of apprenticeships is protected through qualifications as the quantity increases
  • ask employers to make apprentices more aware of career options
  • reform careers advice; ensure employers offer progression routes to apprentices capable of pursuing them
  • set up an NUS-style body to represent apprentices’ interests.

In his foreword featured in the report Nadhim Zahawi MP said: “It’s crucial that apprentices themselves have a voice and their experiences are listened to.

“Building apprentices’ views in, will ensure that quality does not suffer and that apprenticeship programmes remain relevant – not just equipping people with the skills employers need, but giving people what they need to grow and get on in life.

Endorsing the report Semta Group CEO, Ann Watson commented: “Without apprentices, employers across the advanced manufacturing and engineering (AME) sector Semta represents, simply would not be able to meet their skills needs.

“With the economy needing 182,000 people with engineering skills every year to 2022, apprenticeships offer a tried and tested way for employers to equip new recruits with the right skills.

“That’s why 26% of AME employees have gone through an apprenticeship, compared with just 10% for the whole economy.”