Equip the Recovery…In Conversation

In-Comm Training hosted four employers from the West Midlands in a virtual discussion on Apprenticeships and how we move forward with vocational learning.

The conversation, held as part of the Equip the Recovery campaign, revealed an appetite for making Apprenticeships even better, the importance of matching the young person with business culture and a possible rebranding exercise.

On the current feeling about the popularity of Apprenticeships…

“Apprenticeships had lost its appeal, but are now coming back – this is a good thing. We’ve taken on Graduates in the past and been disappointed with their skill sets. That’s not the case with what our Apprentices give us.” David Latham, Shiftec

“The good news for me is that my son’s friends are talking about Apprenticeships at school and see it as a comparable route to going to University. This is very encouraging.” Neil Lloyd, FBC Manby Bowdler

“Some teachers try to talk young people out of Apprenticeships and, worse still, about working with a SME. We’ve got to change this viewpoint and make sure vocational learning is seen as a positive by teachers, parents and pupils.” Rowan Crozier, CEO of Brandauer.

“I feel it is too much University driven and there’s not enough conversation about Apprenticeships. How many young apprentices/students are we missing?” Audie Homer, Operations Director at Valen Fittings

On changes they’d like to see in Apprenticeship Recruitment

“There’s too much emphasis on matching the person’s existing skills with what the business wants. We were guilty of this initially, but now look at how the individual fits with the culture of our business. Skills can be taught.” Rowan 

“Young people need to show they want to learn, to develop and to grow within our business.” Audie

“I think we’re missing a trick with Mature Apprenticeships. More companies should look at using the Levy to upskill existing workers in new areas through vocational learning.” David

On the question of cutting training budget in the wake of Covid-19

“Despite the challenges, we’ve still spent the same on training in the last year. It is too important to our business not to.” Neil

“Apprentices are top of our priority list and will continue to be so. Whilst we had to furlough some, we still encouraged and supported them to study from home, with plans in place for further recruitment next year.” Rowan

On changes they would make to Apprenticeships

“I’d subside the salary for the first year of off-the-job training. This could really galvanise more firms to invest in Apprenticeships, especially those that may have resisted in the past.” David

“I think we’ve got to bake apprenticeships into the National Curriculum, so they are viewed as being an important path to a great career.” Neil

“Apprenticeships still have a reputational issue. Perhaps we can change that by rebranding them, ‘Vocational Degrees’ maybe?” Rowan

“We need to shout from the rooftops about what Apprenticeships can give companies and individuals. It’s no longer a little brother to a degree, it’s a great way of gaining skills, progressing in your career and gaining further qualifications.” Audie

On Covid-19 giving industry the chance for a bit reset

“Manufacturing’s response to Covid-19 is a great example of what manufacturers can achieve. Government now need to put money where their mouth is to make reshoring happen.” Rowan

“Let’s promote, let’s invest and let’s champion what we can do for ourselves. Keep ploughing investment into Apprenticeships and make the most of this unique opportunity we have.” Audie