The new National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) which will be in charge of the funding and delivery of all Apprenticeships in England was officially unveiled yesterday.
Pic: Skills Minister Lord Young, NAS chief Simon Waugh and apprentices
NAS will be overseen by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and will combine the roles that the LSC and the National Employer Service have carried out with regards to apprenticeships up until now.
Skills and Apprenticeship Minister, Lord Young, present at the launch, said: “The National Apprenticeship Service is testament to the Government’s commitment to ensuring the future of our nation’s skills.
“Apprenticeship numbers have more than trebled over the past ten years and the new service will play an integral part in meeting our Apprenticeship targets.”
Government has continually reiterated its view that apprenticeships offer the best chance to fill expected skills gaps that will hit production industries when an aging workforce begins to retire mid next decade.
In January, Gordon Brown announced he will take measures to enable a further 35,000 apprenticeship starts this year, bringing the total number to 260,000. NAS is the organisation tasked with seeing that happen.
Chancellor Alistair Darling announced in his budget statement last week that as of next year all young people under the age of 25 and out of work for a year will be offered training and/or a job through a £655m fund which has been set aside. Much of this will rely on the provision of apprenticeships.
The Learning and Skills Council released figures from some recent research to coincide with the launch. It found that among 3,808 people who had completed apprenticeships, 89% had gained employment immediately after completing the course.
And from an employer perspective, in a survey of 500 manufacturing apprenticeship providers, 81% said the scheme had increased productivity in their business and 66 per cent said it had helped them become more competitive. In addition, 65% say they rely on Apprenticeships to give them the skilled workers they need for the future
Simon Waugh is Chief Executive of the National Apprenticeship Service. He said: “Apprentices make things happen. Research and detailed case studies have consistently demonstrated they are vital to businesses and the economy, helping increase productivity and competitiveness. The NAS will build on this success by ensuring businesses are more informed of these benefits and can take advantage of them by offering Apprenticeship places.
“In the current climate Apprenticeships offer the best of both worlds; giving employers access to a pool of talent that can be shaped to improve business performance and providing people with a great start in their chosen career.”
Click here to read government’s response to the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee’s report on the Draft Apprenticeships Bill.
Manufacturing case study
One example of manufacturing companies benefiting from Apprenticeships is the Cornish yacht manufacturer, Pendennis Shipyard. Founded in 1988, Pendennis builds and refits luxury motor and sailing yachts.
Pendennis, winner of the Large Employer of the Year at the Apprenticeship Awards 2008, began an Apprenticeship a decade ago as part of a drive to recruit and train local young people as engineers, electricians, joiners and welders. It extended this in 2005 by creating a second Apprenticeship scheme in Yacht Surface Finishing – the first Apprenticeship of its kind in the UK.
Jill Carr, training manager at Pendennis says: “One of the main benefits of our Apprenticeship schemes is that the apprentices inject skills, youth, longevity, and flexibility into our niche business. Apprenticeships help us mould employees, through training and on the job experience, thus providing us with the right level of skills and discipline.”