Using data to create ‘Future Proof’ Apprenticeships

March 18 2016  —  by Adam Leach, Research Manager at UKCES

Apprenticeships may sometimes feel like the latest political buzzword, but these earn-and-learn programmes have been solving skills problems for centuries. Combining earning and learning was developed in the middle-ages, where young people would be employed as an apprentice for between 5 and 9 years, to develop skills in traditional crafts and guilds. It’s an excellent idea when you think about it: equipping young people with the skills employers need; building confidence, experience, and providing fresh insights and talent to business to manage tomorrow’s challenges.

The current government has certainly recognised their value, and has pledged to create 3 million apprenticeships starts by 2020, equating to a 36% increase over the life of the Parliament. This drive from government, combined with unprecedented access to local labour market data, means businesses now have a real opportunity to reshape the skills landscape.

We now have the data on what vacancies employers are struggling to fill, what skills they need to fill them and what impact skills-shortages have on productivity and performance – all broken down to relevant local geographic and sectoral levels.

Apprenticeships are about planning for the future – you are training up the next generation.  But future planning is impossible without the right data. Projections on future skills supply and demand are essential for any business investing in developing a sustainable talent supply pipeline.

If you want to be really detailed, you can. For example, knowing that nearly half (48 per cent) of vacancies for Professionals in the West Midlands are hard-to-fill because of a lack of suitably skilled candidates, means you can tailor apprenticeship provision to respond to the challenge, working across sectors and with local partners.

You can also use this data to tailor your approach to recruiting young people, focusing more on a young person’s potential to acquire future skills rather than previous experience or qualifications. Business in the Community’s Future Proof campaign, backed by the City & Guilds Group, aims to help businesses break down the barriers young people face in their recruitment processes. The campaign encourages companies to rethink how they are employing young people and it’s vital that this work is informed by data about local skills supplies and labour market needs. Apprenticeship programmes offer employers the chance to drive their local long term skills agenda to meet both the current and future needs of their businesses. Information on your local labour market can help shine a light on employer skills needs and unlock young people’s potential.

Businesses can use the vast array of labour market information (LMI) to build apprenticeship programmes of excellence that benefit employers and apprentices, boost business performance and fuel productivity growth.

Why not get stuck in? You can access your free local LMI summary here. Each summary contains data on the national skills picture, information on local vacancies and any skill gaps in that area; vital information for any business looking to create future proof apprenticeships.

Adam Leach