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11 February 2021

The importance of apprenticeships

National Apprenticeship Week 2021 

Our Head of Enterprise, Skills & Industry discusses the benefits of apprenticeships for people, communities and businesses.

There is strong evidence that apprenticeships are one of the most effective tools in supporting economic growth, addressing skills mismatches and improving social mobility. 

Apprenticeships offer that all-important 'earn and learn' skills training which directly responds to the needs of local employers while boosting the quality of jobs and wages available to local people and addressing social disadvantage. A recent Social Mobility Commission (2020) study found that people from less privileged backgrounds who complete an apprenticeship get a bigger boost in their earnings than other learners. Apprentices are also more likely to transition to work or study successfully after their course and be in a job linked to their area of study than those who achieve classroom-based technical qualifications (Post-16 pathways, DfE 2020). 

Despite their many benefits, apprenticeships have declined nationally and a continuous drop in starts in Dorset is mirroring those trends with a 10% decline recorded in 2019/20 alone. Strikingly, in a 2020 employer survey, only 8% of Dorset employers were currently employing an apprentice.

Apprenticeships are a key policy instrument in the governments’ levelling up toolkit and an effective means to developing crucial skills for the local economy, addressing skills gaps, employability and earnings, which are critical for Dorset’s recovery. The patterns of decrease in apprenticeships are acting as a constraint to these aspirations as apprenticeships are associated with occupations that are growing and essential in responding to employer need – such as manufacturing, engineering, health, public services and care.

Organisations that have prioritised the skills of their workforce and embraced apprenticeships can feel the benefit. In an Open University report due to be launched later in the week, two thirds of companies (66%) report that apprenticeships have enabled their organisation to bounce-back from the economic fall-out more quickly.

In line with the 2021 National Apprenticeship Week’s theme of ‘Build The Future’, Dorset LEP is encouraging employers to look to work-based learning to grow their own skills, build agility and to future-proof their organisations by offering virtual work experiences to Year 10 students in June and July. 

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