National Apprenticeship Week 2024 kicks off

Posted on 5 Feb 2024 by James Devonshire

Today marks the start of National Apprenticeship Week 2024, an event that brings together individuals and businesses who are passionate about apprenticeships to celebrate the value, benefit and opportunity that they bring.

This year’s theme is “Skills For Life”, designed to emphasise how careers and businesses all start with skills, which can be developed through apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships are hugely important for the manufacturing industry, providing individuals with recognised qualifications and invaluable hands-on experience, while helping manufacturers nurture tomorrow’s talent. The combination of earning while you’re learning is attractive for many young people and offers an alternative to traditional higher education pathways.

When you consider that the UK manufacturing industry currently has 67,000 vacancies, according to the Office for National Statistics, and has a predominantly ageing workforce, there could be a resource issue going forward unless younger talent is secured. Apprenticeships are a great way to achieve this goal.

Fortunately, many manufacturers recognise this and are actively investing in their apprentice and graduate programmes. One example is BAE Systems which recently announced almost 2,700 apprentice and graduate positions as part of its record-breaking 2024 recruitment drive.

Meanwhile, events like the 2024 Enginuity Skills Awards, a night dedicated to celebrating the brightest and best in early-career engineering and manufacturing talent, serve to further promote the importance of apprenticeships.

Get involved

There are plenty of opportunities for individuals and businesses alike to get involved with National Apprenticeship Week 2024. The NAW 2024 Toolkit is designed to help businesses plan and promote their activities by taking advantage of the guidance and downloadable assets.

The NAW website also features a comprehensive list of all the events taking place this week, of which there are currently more than 500 across the country.

And for those interested in finding out more about apprenticeship opportunities, the government’s Find an Apprenticeship service makes it easy to search and apply for apprenticeships in England.

Industry comments

Speaking on the importance of apprenticeships, Tamsin Jones, HR Director at Mars Wrigley, said: “At Mars, we have placed huge value on our apprentices and the contributions they make to our business for decades. For me, the success of these contributions comes down to the way we tailor our mentoring to each individual and help them choose the path that best suits their interests. At Mars, you can count on our commitment to your growth and development –while our apprentices are often attracted by our iconic brands, from Snickers and Maltesers to Whiskas and Ben’s Original, they stay for our approach to training and development. In fact, almost 80% of our apprentices continue at Mars after graduating, embarking on an exciting career here for many years. I look forward to National Apprenticeship week every time it comes around – it’s a great opportunity for us to celebrate the achievements of our Mars apprentices and encourage applicants to join our carefully curated programmes so they can kickstart an exciting career at Mars.”

Kelly Becker, Zone President of Schneider Electric UK and Ireland, said: “Some of the best people I’ve had the pleasure of working with have climbed the ranks through our apprenticeship programme. Apprenticeships offer a dynamic and fulfilling route to success, fostering both technical and interpersonal skills, and the flexibility to shift roles based on business learning, allowing talent to progress quickly. Local programmes like ours allow businesses to plug regional skills gaps and future-proof their workforces for years to come while helping progress the government’s focus on green jobs up and down the country.“

“That’s why we’re 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. As National Apprenticeship Week approaches, it should serve as a reminder that businesses must play a vital role in changing perceptions, including by working with education providers to increase the understanding of the opportunities available.”

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