Improved employability skills needed amongst future workers
Employers value practical learning and experience, says apprenticeship provider Educ8
It was just a few weeks ago that apprenticeships were once again highlighted as playing a pivotal role in the UK’s skills and education system – but this time by King Charles himself.
Appearing in a special episode of The Repair Shop, the then-Prince praised the value of technical skills and apprenticeships, saying: “I can see the difference we can make to people who have technical skills, which we need all the time. It gives people intense reward and satisfaction.”
Traditionally, apprenticeships have been viewed as a ‘second-best option’, perhaps for those who did not thrive in academic settings and were therefore perceived as better off in vocational training while successful school students would need to go to university or college.
It’s this misconception that providers such as Educ8 Training Group are working to dispel, with apprenticeships offering learners invaluable practical learning opportunities and career progression in a variety of sectors.
As one of the UK’s leading apprenticeship providers, Educ8’s high-quality, fully funded apprenticeships include courses in Customer Service, IT through digital solutions company Aspire 2Be, Business Administration, Leadership & Management, Digital Marketing, Social Media, Health & Social Care, Hair & Beauty, and Equine & Animal Care through the prestigious Haddon Training.
Standing out from the crowd: what employers are searching for
This year, for the first time since records began, there were more job vacancies than unemployed people in the UK.
However, organisations are facing hard-to-fill vacancies, with 61% of UK businesses facing a skills shortage. Collectively this is costing an estimated £6.1 billion annually on training, inflated salaries, recruitment fees and temporary staff in order to address these shortages. They also reported a lack of ‘employability skills’ amongst applicants; problem-solving, planning and communication skills that are critical to enabling staff progression and adaptability as the workplace evolves.
Universities are changing in light of this feedback from employers, with courses offering more opportunities for practical learning. Still, even with university degrees evolving, research from the CIPD indicates over a third (36%) of UK graduates are overqualified for their roles, with a rising proportion ending up stuck in low-skilled jobs.
The study also highlights how the proportion of graduates in low/medium-skilled jobs has doubled over the past 30 years, finding that overqualified graduates have lower levels of job and life satisfaction, are less enthusiastic about their work and are more likely to want to quit, compared to well-matched graduates.
Bridging the gap between employment and studying, apprenticeships tackle this issue by allowing apprentices the hands-on experience and knowledge needed in their chosen field. By putting what they learn straight into practise, apprentices have a head start and can quickly progress in their role with greater satisfaction and outcomes.
Working from a carer to a registered manager, Zenzy Flowers has completed several qualifications with Educ8 Training: “I’ve worked with Educ8 personally for 8 years. I studied my Health and Social Care Level 2, 3, 5 and Higher 5 and have now moved on to do the ILM Level 5.
“Studying the qualifications has been great as it has helped me move through promotions in my workplace and work my way up through the career ladder. I wouldn’t be where I am today without this learning.”
The other major factor weighing on every university graduate or prospective student is the cost: with yearly fees now around £9,250 per year, graduates find themselves saddled with debt worth almost £30,000 and an average salary between £21-25,000.
Apprenticeships offer learners a fantastic career pathway: get paid to earn your qualification. As the Welsh Government has committed over £360m to deliver 125,000 all age apprenticeships over the next three years, courses come fully funded (subject to eligibility) and with competitive salaries.
Apprentice Joe George said: “I recently completed my Social Media for Business Level 3 apprenticeship. Being able to spend time in a job while also having time to study really worked for me and it’s been great to have earnt my qualification while also being paid.”
Setting up future generations for success
With the importance of practical skills amongst employers growing, it’s evident that apprenticeships are becoming a more and more popular route into the workforce, allowing learners to walk into a role equipped and ready to make a positive impact.
The future of the UK skills market is at a crucial point, and decisions young people make about their education and career progressions will have a major impact on the nation’s growth.
The advice and support they will receive is therefore critical, with parents, schools and careers advisors playing a huge role. With this latest royal seal of approval, it’s time to leave the stereotypes behind and instead support young learners to make the right choice for themselves.
Time and time again at Educ8, learners demonstrate how it’s character – their ambition and tenacity to achieve – that determines success in life, not simply the route of education they choose.