THEMES – APPRENTICES
Hannah Clarke, 18, product design apprentice, Ishida, explains why doing an apprenticeship instead of going to uni was an easy decision to make
From a young age, I always wanted to be a design engineer. I have always loved and excelled in engineering-based subjects such as: maths, physics and product design. It was due to my enjoyment of the subjects that I took them at A-level, and completed them with high grades.
After A-levels I went on to choose an apprenticeship, even though I was steered towards university. For me, an apprenticeship was a ‘no-brainer’. I was able to get qualifications as well as four years’ experience within the industry, something that I would struggle to get at university.
It was the experience that won me over. I felt that the experience would help me to become the best design engineer I could be. This could be because I could apply my knowledge, learn extra information from the company, or even gain more respect within the company as I have experience.
The added help that an apprentice gets from the company is something that I have considered very valuable. Ishida, the company I work for, is a prime example for this. When I return to Ishida, not only do I get experience within the industry, but help with any problems that I may have faced during the week. But it is not all positives. I am still getting used to the early morning rises and the added bonus of the morning commute!
THEMES – APPRENTICESHIPS
Engineering a skilled workforce
Skills shortages are bedevilling industry but initiatives to attract youngsters should bear fruit, says Sue Parr, business development director, WMG
Two reports, out this year, have both highlighted the need for more skilled engineers in the manufacturing sector. The EngineeringUK 2016 report found 41 per cent of engineering enterprises saying it is hard to fill vacancies, meaning delays in introducing new products and services. Those manufacturers surveyed for the Annual Manufacturing report 2016 also identified their greatest challenge as attracting and retaining a sufficient number of skilled people, particularly youngsters, to fill a high number of vacancies.
Is enough being done to make the manufacturing sector an attractive career choice? To enable young people to make an informed decision they need more information about what engineering is today and what type of career they can expect. They need to be able to gain early experience of engineering and to develop the skills, and mindset, that will help them to become successful engineers.
With the opening of more University Technical Colleges, and the push behind STEM from many of the engineering institutes, hopefully we will start to see a pipeline of young people selecting engineering as their career of choice.
DEGREE APPRENTICESHIPS PROVIDES A NEW ROUTE
Over the last couple of years, we have seen many more options opening up when it comes to gaining knowledge and skills. Higher apprenticeships and, from 2017, the degree apprenticeship, provide an interesting new route for young people. Degree apprenticeships combine working for a business and developing appropriate technical and practical, work-based skills with academic study at a university, such as the programme at WMG, University of Warwick, or other degree providers, for a Bachelors degree.
Those studying this way have the best of both worlds: they learn on the job while receiving a salary and gain a degree – but without the student debt. This provides an exciting pathway, which can also be taken by those who might not have traditionally chosen to go to university. For businesses, it will mean engaging highly talented youngsters early, and enabling them to grow in the business. The challenges don’t stop at attracting staff. Retaining the staff and ensuring they have the skills they need now and for the future is equally important.
Ongoing skills development is beneficial for both the individuals and the business. It is clear from industry studies that employees want ongoing investment in their development and it is a significant factor in whether they stay or leave a business. Changes in markets and technology also mean that companies need to ensure that their staff continue to have the skills they need to gain maximum benefit from these developments.
PARTNERS IN LIFELONG LEARNING
Universities and businesses are natural partners in lifelong learning – universities have both the fresh perspectives needed for new ideas, and the rigorous standards required for business relevance. Being able to study but also apply this back to business is one way in which WMG enables businesses to ensure that they have the skilled staff they need in the right areas. In 2017, there is the potential for greater integration of new technology which will be challenging – and potentially game-changing – for many businesses.
We’ve seen that greater servitisation is also altering the nature of the relationship between suppliers and clients These and other changes in markets are having a massive impact, often requiring a shift in the practices, style and culture of a businesses. Staff need new skills to help them and their business take advantage of these current developments – and the ones that will undoubtedly follow.
But let’s not forget that once a business has invested in their staff, they need to be able to retain that information if that member of staff leaves or retires. This in itself is another challenge, which needs its own approach and one that will be different for each business.
SPONSOR – APPRENTICESHIP LEVY
The apprenticeship levy promises to provide a new means of funding apprenticeships in England but concerns persist over the speed of its implementation
While the manufacturing industry has seen some major wins on the apprenticeship levy, the challenge for employers now is timing. Verity O’Keefe, senior policy adviser at EEF, says: “Apprenticeships are critical for our industry, but manufacturers have long been wary of the levy and wanted it to be delayed until they could be satisfied it was fit-for-purpose.
Recent government announcements have reflected our sector’s concerns and are a positive step forward.” She adds: “Timing is now all important. With a shrinking window of opportunity to prepare for the levy, Government must carefully prepare a final implementation plan while remaining mindful that employers as well as Government need timeto prepare for the sea change in apprenticeship funding next year.”
Want to know more about the levy? Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- New Apprenticeship Levy introduced from April 2017
- New system replaces all current funding for apprenticeships in England
- Single companies, or groups of companies, with a pay bill of more than £3m in scope of levy
- Levy-payers must pay 0.5% of their paybill to HMRC monthly
- Levy-payers have a £15,000 allowance to deduct from their levy annually
- From 2018, employers can transfer 10% of funds to other employers
- Non-levy payers must co-invest 10% of the cost
WINS FOR THE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY
- Increase in the lifetime of levy vouchers to 24 months
- Uplift of funding for STEM apprenticeships
- Increase in funding for key engineering standards and frameworks
- Commitment to work with business on transferring unspent vouchers
- Ability to use funds for up-skilling and re-skilling
WHAT CAN EMPLOYERS EXPECT IN 2017?
- A Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) will be launched
- Levy-paying employers will see levy funds in new accounts
- Employers only get back the ‘English Fraction’ of their paybill
- Funds can be spent on approved apprenticeships with approved providers
- Levy payers can transfer up to 10 per cent of unspent vouchers from 2018
- By 2020 all employers will be registered on the Digital Apprenticeship Service