North-South divide deepening for apprenticeships

Posted on 6 Feb 2012 by The Manufacturer

Figures from BIS last week showed an increase in apprenticeship uptake across the UK but Semta has found the overall numbers mask an increasing imbalance between the North and South.

Semta’s analysis of new data on the number of apprenticeship starts in the academic year 2010-2011 revealed that the UKs Northern regions are well ahead of the South when it comes to apprenticeship provision in engineering and manufacturing firms.

A quarter of sector employers in the North (comprising the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humberside) offer apprenticeships, compared to a national average of less than a fifth (17%).

Sector figures for the Midlands and the South are 21% and 22% respectively.

This is despite the fact that, according to EEF data, economic output from manufacturing companies in the northern regions comes to around £44.2 billion compared to £71.2bn in the South and the Midlands combined.

Previous research from Semta has indicated that between 2012 and 2016 engineering and manufacturing sectors need to recruit 82,000 scientists, engineers and technologists across the UK in order to remain competitive and meet growth targets.

In addition Semta’s evidence suggests that over half of technicians in the current workforce are under qualified when compared to international peers and there is therefore an upskilling challenge to be met.

As apprenticeship week begins this week (March 6-10), Semta is urging companies to learn from the case studies and individual stories being showcased. It is hoped these examples will lower employer reluctance to provide apprentices – both for existing employees
and for new recruits.

Semta’s break down of regional apprenticeship provision shows that half of apprenticeships for over 25 year olds or located in the North, demonstrating a strong regional commitment to retaining and improving the prospects of existing employees, despite the fact that this kind of apprenticeship attracts less funding than those for school leavers.

The comparable figures for adult apprenticeships in the Midlands and the South are 17% and 43% respectively. Semta has said this means companies in these regions are failing to capitalise on the knowledge and experience of a sector with a high age demographic.

Philip Whiteman commented: “Apprenticeships are good for business no matter where they are in the UK. With funding and support readily available through Semta, businesses need to invest in apprentice training and making sure they have the skills they need for
competitive advantage.”

Semta supports companies to hire, train and fund apprentices or provide advice and guidance on the many available frameworks and qualifications. For further information, contact Customer Services on [email protected] or phone 0845 643 9001.

Alternatively call Peter Kealy ([email protected]) at The Manufacturer on           0207 401 6033. The Manufacturer is proud to act as a partner to Semta in promoting apprenticeship provision and informing employers of associated benefits and support.