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Employers are urged to ‘walk the walk’ on apprenticeships

Employers are being urged to reset their approach to recruitment and take advantage of the business benefits delivered by apprentices.

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) is calling on building services employers to seize the opportunities created by this year’s National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) which runs from February 5 to 11.

Now in its 17th year, the theme for #NAW2024 ‘Skills for Life’ highlights the availability of apprenticeships to suit people of all ages and at any stage in their career.

With the building engineering industry struggling with an ageing workforce and a skills shortage, BESA believes there has never been a more critical time for employers to apply for the government funding on offer for apprenticeships to bring in fresh talent and upskill existing workers.

It has also relaunched its ‘Future Skills’ pledge to coincide with NAW 2024 and is urging all building services employers to show their commitment to training and recruitment.

By taking the pledge, employers can help the Association and its college partners identify and prepare the training resources needed to meet demand. BESA will also contact the employer to get a better understanding of their requirements and provide advice about possible training providers, funding, and access to suitable candidates.

More than 60 employers took the pledge last year and the Association hopes to beat that figure in 2024.

BESA’s Director of Training and Skills Helen Yeulet said: “The cost-of-living crisis has made it even more likely that a young person looking for their next step after school will not go to university. The chance to ‘earn as you learn’ has never looked more appealing and organisations like the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) have worked hard to make apprenticeships more flexible to suit the needs of employers and employees at different stages of their careers.

“However, while there is plenty of promising rhetoric from employers around this topic more of them need to step up and ‘walk the walk’ by committing to take on more apprentices.”

Yeulet pointed out that as much as 95 per cent of an apprentice’s training and assessment costs are covered by the government via the apprenticeship levy – and because they are directly employed, an apprentice starts contributing to the business immediately.

Eighty per cent of businesses who employ apprentices enjoy better productivity, according to the Department for Education, and 74 per cent of employers said apprenticeships had helped them improve the quality of their product or service.

Yulet continued: “We desperately need the new ideas and perspectives that apprentices bring to our businesses. This is particularly crucial as we adopt more emerging technologies and processes to address climate change and make buildings safer and healthier.”

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