The government has announced an initiative that will provide 23,000 places for young people to take Higher Apprenticeships in sectors such as aviation, low-carbon engineering, space engineering and renewable energy.
Higher Apprenticeships help widen access to engineering. They also enable the government to target sectors where skills gaps have been identified. It is estimated that the UK will need to train 96,300 new engineers over the next four years just to replace those who are due to retire.
Business secretary Vince Cable said: “Through the Higher Apprenticeship Fund we can target sectors where skills shortages are threatening to choke off growth.
“Higher Apprenticeships are an essential step in rebalancing our economy and building a fairer country where growth is spread evenly and opportunities are not limited to the privileged.”
This is the final tranche of projects being supported by a £25 million fund for Higher Apprenticeships and builds on the 21 projects announced last December. Employers, including Siemens, Unilever and the UK Space Agency, will benefit from accredited technical training delivered in the workplace.
David Way, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: “The expansion of the Higher Apprenticeships underpins our commitment to raising the quality of apprenticeships. We are seeing major employers opening up recruitment and training to young apprentices. Young people and their parents can see clear opportunities to climb the jobs ladder right to the top through taking up apprenticeships.”
Skills minister John Hayes said: “By radically increasing the number of degree-level apprenticeships we are putting practical learning on a level footing with academic study. Doing an apprenticeship should be one of the best gateways to university-level study.”
Commenting on today’s announcement, Tim Thomas, head of employment affairs at manufacturers' organisation the EEF, said that employers are increasingly aware of the benefits of apprenticeships to plug skills gaps and will welcome the move.
He added: “Employers view vocational and academic qualifications and skills as complementary to one another, and Higher Apprenticeships are becoming a hybrid of both. They provide a viable solution to employers’ increasing desire for practical and academic skills.
“However, we must ensure that young people are receiving the right careers advice that demonstrates apprenticeships can lead to highly successful careers in manufacturing.”
Neil Carberry, director of employment and skills at the CBI, said: “Young people need to know that Higher Apprenticeships are a great route to a successful career, as they can build higher-level skills while learning on-the-job with an employer.”
Nine partnerships comprising employers and training providers will receive a total of £6 million, following a competitive bidding process.
The projects include:
- Loughborough College is developing level 4 apprenticeships in space engineering. Under-represented groups will be targeted, particularly women.
- The City and Islington College is developing level 4 apprenticeships in engineering and environmental technologies. These will meet the skills demands of businesses in construction, engineering, manufacturing, energy and utilities, manufacturing production and processing. The development will address under-representation in STEM subjects, with targets for getting women, black, Asian and minority ethnic students, and those with disabilities, into engineering.
- EU Skills is developing apprenticeships at level 4 and level 5 in energy and utilities. This will help replace the ageing workforce and adopt new technologies to tackle climate change. Companies that will benefit include Siemens, E.On, National Grid, and Scottish and Southern Energy.