Record number of businesses taking on apprentices in Merseyside


·         New report outlines productivity impact of Apprenticeships

·         Record number of businesses in North West taking on apprentices

·         Bridges Into Work programme offers businesses additional apprentice hire support

Apprenticeship completions over the next decade are forecast to contribute £3.4 billion a year to the economy through productivity gains by 2022. (1)  That’s according to a new report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) released today to mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week 2013.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“A record number of businesses are taking on apprentices in the North West – with an extra 10,650 new apprenticeships starting in the last year.  Number of apprentices rose from 78,660 in 2010/11 to 89,310 in 2011/12. The national number of people has topped half a million.

“We are making it as simple and rewarding as possible for companies to take on apprentices because they are vital to Great British businesses – from mechanical engineering and business administration to dental nursing and physiotherapy. Apprentices are at the heart of our drive to make sure firms across the North West are fit to prosper and compete now and in the future.”

Apprentice numbers rose across all areas of the region, as the figures below demonstrate.

Local Education Authority    2010/11   Full Year  Total  34,550  2011/12   Full Year  Total  38,340

Blackburn with Darwen 2010/11  1,550  2011/12  1,900 Blackpool    2010/11 1,800  2011/12 1,940   Bolton 2010/11  2,820  2011/12  3,280   Bury    2010/11 1,720  2011/12 2,050   Cheshire East    2010/11 3,080  2011/12 3,730   Cheshire West and Chester    2010/11 3,290  2011/12 3,770   Cumbria    2010/11 5,280  2011/12 5,840   Halton    2010/11 1,810  2011/12 2,010   Knowsley    2010/11 2,580  2011/12 2,910   Lancashire    2010/11 11,920  2011/12 13,230   Liverpool    2010/11 6,470  2011/12 7,290   Manchester    2010/11 4,760  2011/12 5,190   Oldham    2010/11 2,510  2011/12 2,710   Rochdale    2010/11 2,350  2011/12 2,760   Salford  2,710  2011/12 3,150   Sefton    2010/11 3,370  2011/12 3,840   St Helens    2010/11 2,070  2011/12 2,850   Stockport    2010/11 3,180  2011/12 3,380   Tameside  2010/11 3,020  2011/12 3,130   Trafford    2010/11 1,660  2011/12 2,130   Warrington    2010/11 2,440  2011/12 2,870   Wigan    2010/11 4,150  2011/12 4,510   Wirral    2010/11 4,140  2011/12 4,870   Total  2010/11 78,660 2011/12  89,310   One successful North West apprentice is award-winning Abigail Fraser, 19, who began an apprenticeship at Urbana Contracts in Lancashire.

Abigail had initially joined Urbana Contracts as a packer having been adamant she did not want to continue in education. After a few weeks Abigail expressed a keen interest in joining the polishing department where furniture is restored to the best possible condition using specialist techniques.

The company believes that young people need to discover their hidden talents and thought that an Apprenticeship might be an appropriate option for Abigail to progress. Although she was not initially keen on attending college, Abigail changed her mind after visiting the facilities and meeting with the training officer at North Lancs Training Group.

Abigail started her Apprenticeship in 2012, and attends college once a week. As a result of these sessions Abigail has blossomed.

“When I started my Apprenticeship, the specialist polishing of furniture seemed to come quite easily to me, and within a couple of months I was able to refurbish certain pieces of furniture on my own,” explains Abigail.

“One of my colleagues was off work for several months. This gave me the opportunity to have my own spray booth, which benefited the company as well as my own development as we were able to keep the production flowing.”

Urbana was so pleased that the production was still running at 100% while having a member of staff off work, they decided to award Abigail a pay rise.

Abigail couldn’t be happier or more proud of her achievements.  “The company gave me different challenges every day, which helped me progress,” she says. “My substantial pay rise led to me being able to afford to move out of my parents’ home into my own house, which gave me independence.”  Abigail also won the Intermediate Apprenticeship of the Year Award for the North West region in 2012 in recognition of her achievements.

Abigail’s brother has just started at Urbana Contracts on a wood machinery Apprenticeship, and Abigail is using her experience to advise him.

“I’m happy to help anyone that needs it and I’m looking forward to training the next apprentice that joins our company,” says Abigail.  “Being the only girl here, I thought it would be quite awkward working with a group of boys, because I was unsure what they would think. But I get along with them all.”

“I would recommend an Apprenticeship to anyone looking towards further education because you get a wage while you’re training and a qualification at the end. I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now if I had chosen the academic route.”

Abigail is clear about her future career.  “My main aim is to become supervisor of the department, and one day to have my own company.”

The report, Productivity Matters: The impact of Apprenticeships on the UK economy, presents Cebr’s analysis of the contribution of Apprenticeships to the economy, examining current trends and future developments and exploring the productivity impact of Apprenticeships. Key findings include:


·         The potential for Apprenticeships to contribute more to the economy is significant.  Based on Cebr’s forecasts, between 2012-13 and 2021-22, 3.8 million people will complete an Apprenticeship. It is estimated this would contribute £3.4 billion to the UK economy a year in productivity gains by 2022

·         Apprenticeships are boosting productivity by enabling businesses to grow their skills base.  The average Apprenticeship completer increases business productivity by £214 per week leading to increased profits, lower prices, better products and higher wages. (2)

·         Productivity gains from former apprentices vary according to industry sector. The engineering and manufacturing sectors see the greatest gains (£414 per week) followed by construction and planning (£401) and business, administration & legal (£268). (3)

·         The number of annual Apprenticeship completions is forecast to rise across all sectors of the economy over the coming decade, growing from an annual 260,000 in 2012/13 to 480,000 by 2021/22. (4)

·         According to the Cebr’s predictions, the annual number of Apprenticeship completions in the business, administration & law sector is forecast to rise from 74,000 in 2012/13 to 121,000 by 2021/22.  By 2021/22, it is predicted there will be 65,000 completions in the construction & planning sector, compared to 27,000 in 2012/13. It is forecast that there will be 81,000 completions in the engineering & manufacturing sector by 2021/22, compared to 38,000 in 2012/13. (5)

Commenting on the report at the Barclays and Business in the Community ‘Big Apprentice Conversation’ event, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, said: “This research confirms the economic importance of Apprenticeships and sends a clear message that they deliver for employers, individuals and the economy.

“Since 2010 we have had over a million people start an Apprenticeship in the UK. But I want to see more small and medium businesses reap the benefits of Apprenticeships which is why we have introduced a £1,500 incentive for SMEs who take on a young person.

“I hope that during National Apprenticeship Week more employers up and down the country will look to increase their skillset and productivity by taking on an apprentice.”

Charles Davis, Head of Macroeconomics at the Centre for Economics and Business Research added: “The importance of Apprenticeships to businesses and the wider UK recovery cannot be underestimated.  Our research clearly demonstrates the significant contribution that Apprenticeships can make to economic growth. Raising the skills of the UK’s workforce translates into improved UK competitiveness in a challenging post-financial crisis environment. This is a vital part of rebalancing the UK economy and raising the chances of sustained export-led growth.”

The report coincides with the launch of Barclays’ new Bridges Into Work programme. Delivered in partnership with the National Apprenticeship Service and charities, Tomorrow’s People and The Prince’s Trust, as well as Route 2 training, the scheme aims to support 10,000 young people into work in the coming years. Through Bridges Into Work, businesses across England will be able to receive additional free support to take on an apprentice, whilst local Barclays Business Managers will help match up suitable apprentices and businesses in their area.

Ashok Vaswani, Chief Executive of Barclays Retail and Business Banking, said:

“We’ve seen first hand how our apprentices are incredibly productive and valued members of staff, which is why we are now doubling our recruitment to 2,000. But we often also find great young people who want to work in other industries, and we believe we can help them into work through our vast network of business customers. Our new package of free support is available to any businesses whether they bank with us or not because we are aiming to make a really big difference to young people’s careers, and to our economy.”

David Way, Chief Executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said:

“I regularly speak to employers who tell me about the benefits that Apprenticeships bring to their business. This research provides further hard evidence that Apprenticeships really are improving business and transforming lives.  Apprentices not only increase productivity but also bring creativity and dynamism into the workplace; the very best examples of which are being showcased in this year’s National Apprenticeship Week.

“We need to get this evidence across, particularly to small employers.  The Bridges Into Work Programme will help us to do this, by being able to reach many more small businesses who would benefit from taking on an apprentice.”

For information about Apprenticeships and the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers of 16 to 24 year olds (AGE 16 to 24) which offers  £1,500 to help SMEs cover the costs of taking on a new apprentice, visit or call 08000 150 600.

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