Engineering leads the way as National Apprenticeship Week highlights lockdown challenges
9 Feb 2021
School lockdowns and exam cancellations mean many students, and their parents, could be missing out on important careers advice, warns the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).
New research from the IET released to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week 2021 (8-14 February), reveals that almost a third (32%) of engineering companies are still looking to recruit and train apprentices and graduates to fill skills gaps.
However, well over a third (38%) of engineering employers surveyed are still concerned that apprentices do not understand the realities of work in their industry and almost as many say they lack the necessary technical skills.
The IET is calling on companies to work with schools to promote apprenticeships for young people, particularly in the engineering sector, pointing out these can help tackle future skills challenges such as combatting climate change.
Stephanie Baxter, IET skills and education lead, cautioned employers to be flexible in their expectations, given that many youngsters leaving education may have missed out on training opportunities due to the effects of lockdown.
“It’s disappointing to see there is still a low perception to the quality of young people entering the engineering sector,” she remarked.
She said that improving understanding of challenges such as climated change and digitisation would help attract recruits able to tackle problems “that don’t yet have a known solution”.
It’s disappointing to see there is still a low perception to the quality of young people entering the engineering sector
Stephanie Baxter, skills and education lead, IET
Baxter added: “Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for young people to continue their studies, whilst experiencing the realities of work. They give employers an opportunity to develop the skills of young people to fill emerging roles and fill critical skills gaps.
Meanwhile, the Science Industry Partnership (SIP), the employer-led membership alliance supported by Cogent Skills, this week released its latest Apprenticeship Survey findings and the launch of a new group to support the sector’s apprenticeship ambitions.
The research for 2020 shows that science-industry organisations have a far greater proportion of Higher-Level Apprentices (51%) – nearly three times that for the level across all sectors (19%).
The number of apprentices are working at Levels 6 or 7 in the sector tripled over the three years, from just 6% in 2018 to 18% in 2020.
Research was first undertaken in 2018 in response to the Life Sciences Sector Deal with the ambition of bolstering the 250,000 skilled scientific and technical employees needed through to 2025; the 2020 report provides an evidence base on how the apprenticeship system is working and what changes the sector would like to see.
Stephen Stewart, global talent lead at GlaxoSmithKline, said:
“The findings reinforce the science sector as leading the way in the application and use of apprenticeships in industry. Since our recommendations made in 2018, several new standards were approved for use within the sector.
“There is no doubt these have helped contribute to this upward trend of Higher and Degree Apprenticeships by establishing parity between some academic and vocational pathways into the industry.”
The survey reveals that the Apprenticeship Levy system’s overall engagement has steadily improved too, with the vast majority of apprentices within the sector (95% of those surveyed) now funded via it. As a result, the Levy recovery rate has more than doubled to 28% from 13% in 2018.
In total, 82% of organisations are currently training apprentices. Total Levy liability from responding employers now stands at £23.3m.