Businesses of all sizes across Wales are recognising the benefits of apprenticeships as the best way to develop a skilled workforce to meet current and future demands.
One business that has been reaping the rewards of apprenticeships for more than half a century is BT, the telecoms giant. In Wales alone, the company currently has 92 apprentices and another 70 will join the business in the next 12 months.
Apprenticeships range from Business Administration to, ICT, Engineering and adding Cyber Security, starting at Foundation Apprenticeships (Level 2) all the way up to Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4 and 5).
Bob Soper-Dyer, BT’s Head of Apprenticeship Programme said:
“We’re passionate about attracting new talent and giving people opportunities to work, learn and forge a career in BT which ensures continued growth of the company. We treat apprentices as valuable employees from day one.
“Our apprentices earn a very competitive salary, they work on real projects and pick up real skills – they can be out with our field engineers, side by side at our technology research centre, or taking ownership for and resolving issues on behalf of our customers.
“BT’s business strategy relies on having the right skills, experience and knowledge in the right place at the right time; ready for action. Our apprentices are a key part of that workforce strategy especially where in some areas we still have an ageing workforce and we need to plan for skill replacement.
“We have operated apprenticeships for so long it is inherent in our culture and embedded into our talent acquisition strategy, making them integral to workforce planning which forecasts three years ahead.
“Our apprentices regularly challenge our thinking, and are encouraged to do so. We can’t grow and change as a business without this vital input.
“We recruit apprentices to have a career in BT. As a significant number of our senior managers started BT as apprentices, they are important role models for us, as well as valuable business leaders, hence career progression is encouraged amongst apprentices.”
Research has shown that BT’s five year retention of employees who began as apprentices is 96% and 14% of them achieve promotion.
BT says the return on investment benefits of its apprenticeship programme are:
- Talent acquisition for continued growth measured by retention and progression;
- Efficiency versus payroll cost, typically 40% in year one, 70% in year two and 95% in year three;
- Drive and enthusiasm reflected in the performance of established operational teams
“The apprenticeship programme helps us to capture the best talent, skills and leadership capabilities for the future, which in turn promulgates to our customers adding confidence in our longevity and reputation.
“BT understands that apprenticeships make sound business sense and therefore encourages and helps its own supply chain to grow and recruit apprentices. The net result is increased business performance for BT, an enhanced customer experience and a like-minded supply chain.”
The Welsh Government has pledged to deliver a minimum of 100,000 quality apprenticeships to people of all ages during its term of office. The apprenticeships specifically focus on the needs of industry, particularly science, technology, engineering and mathematics, sectors where there are skills shortages.
Investment is also being increased to drive growth in key sectors including creative industries, information and communication technology, construction, logistics and financial and environmental services. Welsh language and bilingual apprenticeships are also supported.
- Apprentices earn while they learn, gaining invaluable, hands-on experience in the workplace.
- Apprenticeships generate around £1.1 billion to the Welsh economy
- Every £1 of public money invested in apprentices produces a return of £74 compared to £57 for an average degree.
- Apprenticeship success rates in Wales are consistently above 80 per cent compared to 67 per cent in England.
- The average apprenticeship framework costs between £4,000 and £16,000 compared to a minimum of £27,000 for an undergraduate degree.
From April 8 this year, UK employers with a pay bill exceeding £3 million now pay an Apprenticeship Levy, which is encouraging more companies to recruit apprentices.
Employers may express an interest in the Apprenticeship Programme by completing a short form at the Business Wales Skills Gateway here which will be shared with the National Training Federation for Wales, the organisers representing work-based learning providers in Wales.