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National Apprenticeship Week: CIPD unveils detailed guidance for employers to boost quality of apprenticeships for benefit of apprentices, employers and the taxpayer

“Apprenticeships that Work” welcomed by the Government and London Chamber of Commerce

New guidance from the CIPD will help employers across the entire UK ensure that government funding for apprenticeships delivers for employers, individuals and society. The guidance, which is designed to cement high quality apprenticeships as a viable alternative route into professions and occupations and give employers greater ownership of their delivery, is being launched ahead of National Apprenticeship Week, taking place in England from 6-10 February.

The guide, Apprenticeships that Work, has been developed by a working group including representatives from employers including Rolls Royce, Siemens, Capgemini Marks and Spencer and West Sussex Council, as well as trade unions, the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). It is available to download from the CIPD website at www.cipd.co.uk/apprenticeships

The CIPD has created this guide to support its members, HR professionals and employers more generally in developing and running a high-quality apprenticeship offer that responds to their skills needs. Around a third of employers surveyed by the CIPD currently offer apprenticeships. Of those who don’t, most believe that apprenticeships aren’t appropriate for their organisation. This new guide is designed to show employers of all sectors and sizes how they can make apprenticeships work for them. However, the CIPD is warning that quality is at least as important as quantity and apprenticeships will fail to meet aspirations unless:

• Apprenticeships are embedded in a workforce planning approach, as part of a long-term strategy on workforce growth and skills development.
• The role that apprentices play in the organisation and how they will be supported, particularly by their line manager, is made clear
• Employers secure the support of the existing workforce, senior management as well as line mangers and trade unions
• The training apprentices receive on and off the job is high-quality and tailored to employer needs
• Relationships with training providers are carefully managed.
• Alternative and more informal recruitment methods are considered, especially when likely candidates are very young and have no prior work experience
• Employers understand the legal framework
• The apprentice is placed at the heart of the apprenticeships programme and employers provide ongoing support, pastoral care and mentoring
• Employers provide fair access to their apprenticeships schemes and widen the talent pool from which they recruit in terms of gender, ethnicity and diversity.

Katerina Rüdiger, skills adviser at the CIPD who led the development of the guide, comments: “Good quality apprenticeships can offer an alternative, high-quality route into work and help improve youth employability. They are also a useful tool to achieve a more balanced skills profile in the UK and respond to employer skills needs. Recent government policy has been to encourage more employers to offer apprenticeships but if employers who’ve never hired apprentices before are being incentivised to do so, it’s vital that they get the guidance they need to ensure the apprenticeships serve the needs of employers and employees alike.”

John Hayes, Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, comments: "Evidence shows that apprentices help boost productivity and give businesses a competitive edge, with most recouping their investment in less than three years. This new guide will help employers who haven't previously employed an apprentice take full advantage of all they can offer."

Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said:

“Apprenticeships are a great way to up-skill our labour market. However the process of setting up an apprenticeship can often be overwhelming, especially for SMEs who find themselves bombarded with information from a variety of sources. What these firms need is high quality support and guidance throughout the process. CIPD’s guide to taking on an apprentice provides all the information a business needs in one place. Its step-by-step approach and easy to digest content enables employers to easily navigate through the guide and come out the other end ready to offer an apprenticeship.”

Dean Royles, Chair of the CIPD Board, Director, NHS Employers and National Apprenticeships Ambassador, said: “Apprenticeships are an effective means for employers to develop their own talent. They also offer a viable alternative to university for people looking for a direct and affordable route to skilled jobs and careers. The CIPD's new guide gives practical advice to help employers tailor quality apprenticeship programmes that provide an invaluable first step on the employment ladder for young people and also develop existing employees throughout their careers.”

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