The CPID has released guidance on how to get the most out of apprenticeships in support of National Apprenticeship Week.

Apprenticeships are one of the alternatives to a university education that the government is actively pushing in a bid to improve employability, particularly for the youth.

The guidance is aimed at helping employers to seize the power they have over apprenticeships to improve their business. In order to make sure that the guidance is as relevant as possible the CIPD has worked with many respected employers to develop the guide. At present at least a third of employers are not utilising apprenticeships despite how useful they can be for almost any type of business, large or small. They are hoping that the guide will highlight that fact that they can work for many different kinds of employers, sector to sector and regardless of size. It is about working out what you want from your apprenticeship scheme and making it work for you and the apprentice.

In order to be its most effective an apprenticeship scheme must permeate the culture of the business and be respected as a valid way of training up new talent and helping the business grow. Whilst it is an alternative to full time higher education, it should not be seen as a weaker form of training up new recruits. Nor should apprentices be viewed as lower skilled by those who may have taken what was the more conventional route into a particular role. This means that employers must ensure that all current staff are on board with the scheme.

Where an employer really harnesses the power of an apprentice the rewards can be huge. The apprentice is trained and honed into a company specific employee rather than learning something in a broader sense to increase the chance of securing a role in a particular sector. There is also an increased likelihood that the apprentice will feel a greater sense of loyalty towards the business and their employer. Katerina Rüdiger who led the CIPD guide said that "Good-quality apprenticeships can offer an alternative, high-quality route into work and help improve youth employability. They are also a useful tool to achieve a more balanced skills profile in the UK and respond to employer skills needs. Recent government policy has been to encourage more employers to offer apprenticeships but if employers who've never hired apprentices before are being incentivised to do so, it's vital that they get the guidance they need to ensure the apprenticeships serve the needs of employers and employees alike."

Although figures released by UCAS as to how many people were applying to university after the hike in fees didn't reveal as large a drop as expected, the higher fees will definitely impact on the amount of people really looking at their options for higher education nonetheless. Apprenticeships can work well for both the employer and apprentice if designed and co-ordinated effectively. With the government placing them at the centre of their plans for rebalancing the economy it is likely that employers will be taking note from now on.

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