The number of employers contacting the National Apprenticeship Service to take on apprentices doubled during National Apprenticeship Week compared to the weekly average.
This and other figures prove how successful the event was and how the interest in apprenticeships is increasing in the UK. The NAW saw wide media coverage, which contributed to raise awareness about training and skills.
Richard Hamer, education director at BAE Systems (which spends £84,000 on each apprentice), said: “In recent years, we’ve seen the quality of apprentices grow. Now higher tuition fees are making people realise that maybe higher education is not the only choice.”
Commenting on the success of the NAW, he added: “There have been more activities, there’s been more coverage and certainly more high-profile engagement.”
George Kessler, co-chair at Kesslers International, agrees. Mr Kessler is also an a member of the Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network, a group of senior business leaders formed to promote skills and apprenticeships in the UK.
“I think the National Apprenticeship Week was a success. Apprenticeships are growing and becoming part of the culture. Talk to people, and you’ll see that compared to two or three years ago there is much more awareness,” Kessler said.
With higher education costs on the rise, it’s likely that apprenticeships will begin to appeal to a larger audience.
Events like the National Apprenticeship Week help raise the profile of apprenticeships, getting rid of some of the preconceptions about them.
However, the National Apprenticeship Week should only be the beginning, as more effort is needed in order to convince employers of how good an investment apprentices are, and help thousands more to build a future for themselves.
Hamer said: “This should be a high point, there should be a constant activity by companies and organisations to keep promoting apprenticeships and raise awareness on their importance. This year should be brilliant for this, with major events going on like the Skills Olympics in London.”
In the past few days, many companies have announced they will recruit new apprentices. Some of the companies who are going to train the highest number of apprentices in 2011 are Morrison’s (12,000), Jaguar Land Rover (which has announced it will take on 1,500 apprentices), British Gas (500), BAE Systems (290), British Airways (250). Other firms that have recently announced new apprenticeship posts are Superdrug, Procter & Gamble, HSBC, Nissan and Ferrari.