Firms across the UK have been announcing a number of training programmes to mark National Apprenticeship Week, which starts today (February 8).
Hundreds of different types of apprenticeships are available despite the impact on employment of the COVID-19 crisis, research shows.
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Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, said the annual event has never come at a more important time.
“We can’t pretend that COVID-19 has not had a major impact on many apprenticeships.
“They are jobs with training, so what’s happened in the programme has mirrored the rest of the economy with some sectors being hit hard and others weathering the storm.
“However, it’s important to celebrate all that is great about apprenticeships and spread the word that there are still a lot of businesses offering them.
“The Find an Apprenticeship website lets you search all available apprenticeships in your local area and nationally. There are around 600 different kinds of apprenticeships now available.”
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) said it plans to recruit 200 new apprentices this year, followed by another 250 in 2022, while targeting a 50/50 gender split on all new driver apprenticeships.
Zoey Hudson of GTR said: “We have set out to challenge the stereotypes associated with careers in rail, and our applicant numbers – as well as their demographic split – clearly show that more and more people are recognising it as an attractive and lifelong option.”
The company says it has the UK’s oldest apprentice, 76-year-old Bob Bryce, who is taking a new supervisory apprenticeship in Luton.
He said: “I joined the railway in 1999 and my biggest regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. It’s the best job I’ve ever had, which is why I want to keep working as long as possible.
“I was hesitant to do the apprenticeship at first because of my age. I left school over 60 years ago without any qualifications. It’s been hard at times to get back into the routine of learning again.”
COVID-19 is having a dramatic impact on the future of vocational learning, according to consultants In-Comm Training, which said almost two-thirds of companies had failed to invest in new apprentices over the last year.
Its research suggested that half of firms had cut training budgets and shelved plans to take on young workers as they adapt to the challenges presented by the virus.
To find out more about National Apprenticeship Week, click here.
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