Award bid to help firms on apprenticeships
Jan 29 2009 by Henryk Zientek, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
COMPANIES in Huddersfield with a commitment to training have just a few weeks left to take part in a national award.
The Forum of Private Business is urging companies across the town to compete in the National Apprenticeship Awards – and wants more firms to take on apprentices.
Figures from the Learning and Skills Council, which is organising the awards, show that only 130,000 of the UK’s 4.7m small businesses offer apprenticeships. Most of those that do are involved in manufacturing or skilled trades.
Nick Palin, FPB director of human resources, said: “There is a clear gap between what businesses need and what businesses get when it comes to the ability of the traditional education system to produce viable employees for small businesses.
“Our members tell us they find it difficult to recruit employees with basic attributes, let alone the more developed and specific skills required by some businesses.
“The FPB believes that apprenticeships could provide a solution – and is encouraging businesses benefiting from apprenticeship schemes to come forward and apply for these awards and tell their stories to others.”
Mr Palin said a survey by the FPB last summer showed that most small firms valued school and college leavers over graduates and postgraduates.
In addition, 77.4% of bosses said they did not need employees with “university” skills, while 35.5% wanted people with technical skills that are not provided by universities.
Basic skills valued by employers are literacy, numeracy, English language communication and basic ICT skills, such as using email. However, 68% of employers rated the skills levels of graduates entering the workplace as “is considered merely “average”.
The National Apprenticeship Awards, now in their sixth year, are designed to recognise employers successfully using apprenticeships to improve the performance of their businesses.
Entries come from firms operating in sectors ranging from accountancy and engineering to construction, creative industries and sport. The closing date is February 27.
The winners’ event will be held on 16 July 2009 in London. To apply, call 0800 954 8896 or visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk/awards