Apprenticeships can drive UK growth, says AAT

New research from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) demonstrates how apprenticeships can deliver the skills that Britain will need in the future.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research’s (Cebr) latest report for AAT, ‘Apprenticeships for the Future’ follows the finding that apprentices are delivering £1.8 billion of benefits to business. AAT believes there is a significant opportunity to adapt the current system for the future. By targeting funding at priority sectors, emerging skills gaps, and addressing geographical imbalances, apprentices can provide the skills that the UK economy will need to continue to grow.

The report found that only 31% of young people had spoken to their teachers about apprenticeships. AAT calls for attitudes in the teaching profession to change, so that pupils receive independent and comprehensive advice on all the options available to them.

Additionally, the report highlighted a drop in IT apprenticeships despite the sector suffering from acute skills shortages; starts dropped by 28% between 2010/11 and 2012/13. London, the South East and Scotland are underrepresented for apprenticeship starts relative to their working-age population. London accounted for 13% of employment in the UK in the three months to May 2014, but just 8% of apprenticeship starts in 2012/13.

Cebr expects a large proportion of future jobs to be created in sectors that rely on vocational education and qualifications such as pharmaceuticals, digital technology, advanced manufacturing and green technology.

In ‘Apprenticeships for the Future’, AAT makes five formal recommendations to the Government on developing apprenticeships policy:

  1. Young people should be enabled to make an informed choice about all the opportunities available to them. Careers advice on apprenticeships must be provided to all school pupils.
  1. Funding policy should reflect the changing needs of the economy. As the system moves towards employer contributions, it should differentiate between types of apprenticeship, offering greater funding incentives for places that address identified skills shortages.
  1. Regional disparities in apprenticeship numbers should be addressed through the greater focus on the local ownership of skills education and funding.
  1. Better data is required below regional level to allow skills shortages and certain types of unemployment to be targeted.
  1. The Government should consult further with employers and providers about the details of its new funding mechanism before going ahead.

Mark Farrar, Chief Executive of AAT says: “We need to build on the success of apprenticeships – and this is the time to do so.  As we move to employer payments and contributions, incentives should be targeted.  A one-size-fits-all system won’t do enough to boost particular skills, particularly where those skills cost more to deliver. There has been a huge increase in the number of apprentices in recent years, which has helped businesses and transformed lives.  Now we can look to ensure that all areas of the country benefit fully, with the apprenticeships for the future that the UK needs to drive growth.”

Click here to download the full report.