How can apprenticeships take your business to the next level?

By Andrew Hartley, Deputy Chief Executive, The Sheffield College,

Ensuring employers have a highly skilled workforce is essential for tackling some of the most significant challenges our communities and regional economy face.

Currently, there are talent shortages across a wide range of sectors, such as cybersecurity, engineering, sustainability, and health and social care.

Apprenticeships have an important role to play in meeting that demand and underpinning business success.

They are a great way to train new talent or upskill existing staff, which builds a motivated, qualified workforce and develops careers. All of which support job creation and economic growth.

What’s more, apprenticeships are suitable for people of any age. In England, they are available to anyone over 16.

Offering the chance to earn as you learn in the workplace, apprenticeships take between one and six years to complete.

Apprenticeship benefits for businesses

We know that employers who invest in apprenticeships benefit from greater staff retention and higher productivity.

According to government data, apprentices’ outputs often exceed the associated training costs, resulting in a net benefit to employers.

In addition to that:

  • 92% of companies that have taken on apprentices believe this leads to a more motivated and satisfied workforce.
  • 86% of businesses said apprenticeships helped them develop skills relevant to their organisation.
  • 80% have seen a significant increase in employee retention.

Today’s apprenticeships are challenging outdated stereotypes

There have been significant efforts to raise the profile of apprenticeships, a centuries-old form of training that dates back to the Middle Ages.

Challenging outdated stereotypes and changing perceptions amongst employers, parents, carers, and learners has been central to those efforts.

Today’s apprenticeships cover an exciting range of occupations, from business and professional to science, dental, and pharmacy, and they offer different-level qualifications.

Nationally, we are seeing apprentices lead the way in innovative areas such as digital, data, green, environmental, and technology apprenticeships.

Apprentices thrive in highly skilled professions as well as the traditional trades. Increased demand from employers for specialist high-level skills has led to the introduction of degree-level apprenticeships.

In South Yorkshire, there is a strong commitment to enabling employers and learners to get the most out of apprenticeships.

For example, as one of the largest providers in the region, The Sheffield College’s Apprenticeships+ service worked with around 890 employers and supported approximately 1,900 apprentices during the last academic year.

More recently, we have seen the launch of Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs), which have been designed with employers to address technical skills gaps.

The Sheffield College began offering HTQs in construction, computing and health in 2023. HTQs enable students to progress to a degree or degree apprenticeship.

These qualifications can be studied as part of an apprenticeship programme, such as a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in construction.

The new South Yorkshire Apprenticeship Hub supports SMEs

 Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) comprise the majority of employers in our regional economy, creating vital jobs that support our communities.  A new regional initiative is supporting SMEs in navigating the apprenticeship system.

The South Yorkshire Apprenticeship Hub is helping SMEs train new talent to meet their skills needs, address hard-to-fill vacancies, improve productivity and develop their workforce for the future.

Aimed at businesses in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield, the hub is funded by the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) and the South Yorkshire Colleges Partnership.

The hub is raising awareness of apprenticeship benefits, providing free, impartial guidance, and connecting employers with the best training provider for their needs. Businesses can book an online consultation to find out more.

Apprenticeships are a first-choice destination for learners who want to advance in their careers, earn as they learn in the workplace, and develop new skills through a structured training programme.

The hub also offers information to parents, carers, and would-be apprentices, as it has connections to all of the key training providers in the region.

South Yorkshire Skills Expo

The region’s colleges and training providers will be attending the upcoming South Yorkshire Skills Expo on 22nd March 2024 at the Magna Science Adventure Centre. Businesses will have a chance to ask questions and find out more about getting the skills they need.

The providers attending include Barnsley College, DN Colleges Group, RNN Group, Northern College, The Sheffield College, Sheffield Hallam University, Communication Specialist College Doncaster, the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre and the South Yorkshire Providers Network.

The South Yorkshire Skills Expo is funded by the Local Skills Investment Fund, which is allocated by the Department for Education and backed by Barnsley & Rotherham, Doncaster and Sheffield Chambers of Commerce.

This funding is being strategically implemented across the region with a specific focus on improving skills and boosting productivity within South Yorkshire.

Investing in a talent pipeline is the future of your business, whether you are a large or small employer. Find out more and book your free place at the South Yorkshire Skills Expo. We look forward to welcoming you.

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