This week (6 to 10 February) is National Apprenticeship Week 2023, the 16th annual celebration of employers keen to offer the chance for new recruits to earn while they learn and build up a valuable pipeline of talent.
According to research by the Co-op, over £600 million in apprenticeship levy funding has been returned to HM Treasury in the past year. This sum could have funded more than 60,000 apprenticeships.
Further research from City & Guilds and The 5% Club found that employers are only using an average of 55.5% of available funds, with only 4% using their full apprenticeship funding in the past five years.
In response to the challenges faced by employers in using funding, the Co-op launched a “levy share” service last year where companies can share up to 25% of their unspent levy funds.
So far almost £17 million has been pledged by 55 companies including Greencore and BT, creating almost 1,500 apprenticeships for people from previously under-represented groups.
One of the barriers standing in the way of apprenticeships thriving is a perception that they are all low-paid and targeted solely at young people, research suggests.
Last week Virgin Media O2 released a survey suggesting almost half (47%) of people thought apprenticeships were only temporary roles and 60% felt they would not mean job security. Forty-six per cent thought they were aimed at young people.
Despite these misgivings, many employers continue to use apprenticeships as a mainstay of their early careers talent strategy. Below we round up a selection of those announcing recruitment plans during National Apprenticeship Week 2023.
Virgin Media O2
Alongside the launch of its research, the company said it would open up “a wide range of apprenticeship roles” across the business this year, with starting salaries well above the UK average at between £19,000 and £30,000. All roles will be offered on a permanent basis, and there is no upper age limit for applications.
Apprenticeship Week 2023
Employers only spending half of apprenticeship levy funds
Govia Thameslink Railway
The rail operator has announced a target of supporting 220 new and existing employees into apprenticeship programmes. This year will also see it reach a significant milestone of its 100th employee starting a train driver apprenticeship.
This is a 20% increase on the number of people who started an apprenticeship with the company in 2021, and roles range from train driving and customer service to engineering, management and leadership skills.
The insurance company is expanding placements into marketing, HR, sustainability, finance and data protection with 100 new apprenticeship roles.
As part of Zurich’s strategy to invest in data and leadership skills, there has been an 89% increase to the number of existing employee apprenticeships available for 2023. The company said it will use £1.75 million of its levy funding this year.
Training provider Realise has pledged to create at least 25,000 newly qualified apprentices over the next five years across a range of sectors.
Minister for skills, apprenticeships and higher education Robert Halfon called the pledge “extraordinary and powerful” and said it was “an important step forward in building a skills and apprenticeships nation and giving more people the chance to climb the ladder of opportunity.”
The schemes will cover levels 2 to 5 and be available nationally via partner employers.
Energy company OVO will upskill 20% of its field technician team this year as demand rises for skilled workers who can install carbon-friendly heat pumps, solar panels and batteries. There will be 100 new apprenticeships available with a focus on recruiting from diverse backgrounds, the company said.
Deutsche Bank has partnered with Queen Mary University of London to launch a new investment banking degree apprenticeship.
The four-year programme is targeted at students completing their A-Levels in 2023 or who have completed their A-Levels in 2022 and will be open to 10 apprentices. Their tuition at the university will be covered and the investment bank said it will also offer a “competitive salary”.
During their ‘on-the-job’ time at the bank they will spend periods at different desks in the London branch and upon completion will receive a BSc degree in applied finance. They will also have the opportunity to apply for a full-time position at Deutsche Bank.
Water company Severn Trent will take on 130 apprentices in 2023, its biggest ever apprenticeship intake. These will range from level 2 to levels 6 and 7, equivalent to a degree.
The apprenticeships available include network and maintenance technicians, health and safety, commercial, customer service, cyber security, digital engineering, environmental practitioner, HR consultant, data analytics and business administration.
Defence and aerospace company BAE Systems will hire 1,400 apprentices as part of a wider early careers recruitment drive.
In December it revealed that 95% of people who finish an apprenticeship with the company go on to secure a full-time role.
Pub company Greene King has 258 live apprenticeship vacancies currently available, revealing that 87% of apprentices feel the business offers them long-term opportunities and career progression.
Employees who achieve an apprenticeship with Greene King stay a further 41 months on average, the company said. It also offers cost-of-living support through its Team Member Support Fund, which was announced last year.
“Since 2011, we’ve supported over 16,500 apprentices across the business, and last year, we made a pledge to expand our offering even further to support an additional 5,000 new apprentices by 2025,” said Andrew Bush, chief people and transformation officer.
“We know that the cost-of-living crisis has made the demand for better progression opportunities and team member support schemes even higher and, as an employer, we’re committed to helping our team members and apprentices as much as we can throughout 2023 and beyond.”
Supermarket chain Aldi will donate £1 million to small and medium-sized businesses this year to fund local apprenticeship schemes. It has already donated more than £1.7 million of levy funding to date.
Sellafield has announced its highest ever recruitment of apprentices, with the target of attracting 300 this year across a diverse range of career pathways.
The latest recruitment campaign will add to the 2,200 apprentices the nuclear site has hired over the past decade.
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