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Apprenticeships work. It’s a fact. It’s been proven again and again over the years by the bright and inspiring individuals learning their craft who go on to grow the country’s economy and make their workplaces more efficient and productive.

March 5-9 2018 is National Apprenticeship Week, where we celebrate and promote the role of apprenticeships in education and work. Above all, we want to get the word out about how important apprenticeships are to the modern economy and how people of all ages  can take on a vocational career.

Apprenticeships are based on a very old training format: a young person learns a skill with the help and guidance of an expert. Under their supervision, the apprentice learns everything there is to know about their particular profession. By the time their training is complete, the apprentice will be able to work effectively on their own or to continue with their tutor in growing the business.

When people think of apprenticeships, they think of very hands-on and technical professions, like plumbing or masonry. This is certainly the case; apprenticeships in the trades are a vibrant and vital part of sustaining and growing those industries. But apprenticeships in modern Britain offer so much more. An apprenticeship can take place in almost any job role, from marketing to IT, building to management. You can view the full list of all apprenticeships available in the UK here

Apprenticeships are the go-to way to get people trained in skills and areas that require an immersion in the hands-on experience that a college or university course just can’t give. They also provide the skills and experience young people in particular need in order to be successful in the marketplace.

Modern apprenticeships are also being used in new ways. Because of the recent government reforms to apprenticeships, including the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, employers are using government-funded apprenticeship programs to upgrade and refine the skills of their current employees or to introduce them to new skills in order to broaden their career horizons. 

The last few years also began to see a sea-change in who apprentices actually are. Apprentices tend to be thought of as young people, but that is now not always the case. In 2016/17, 46% of people who started an apprenticeship were over the age of 25. This timeframe also saw the number of people taking higher level apprenticeships increase. in 2016/17. In this timeframe 47% of apprenticeship starts were at advanced or higher levels (Level 3 and upward). This shows the growing sophistication of apprenticeships and how far they can end up taking you.

Apprenticeships also tend to be thought of as a educational pathways dominated by young men. This is largely because of their association with the trade, which tend to be largely male sectors. But even this is beginning to change. In 2016/17, 54% of apprenticeship starts were women. Apprenticeships going into 2018 will be more accessible than ever.

Apprenticeships work for everyone and are adapting to meet the demands of the modern economy. But despite the changes, apprenticeships are based on a solid principle: the best way to teach is for a learner to be paired with and supervised by an expert in the field that will foster the creation of useful ad relevant skills. It is a unique educational and training format, combining the best of academic training, technical training and the guiding hand of a master to ensure the apprentice grows into what they know they can become.

There are great events happening all over the UK for National Apprenticeships Week. There are loads in the Greater Manchester Area, including at Manchester Metropolitan University, SERTA and 3aaa. You can find events near you by using the National Apprenticeships Week event map.

TQUK, as an End-Point Assessment Organisation, want to see the success of UK apprenticeships in the future. We've heard so many stories from all over the country about how apprenticeships work – not only for apprentices but for employers as well. It is a unique, vital and necessary conduit into the job market and all people looking to expand their horizons should know about them.

To keep up to date with the latest news about apprenticeships, or to follow our incisive commentary on the FE sector, return to our blog or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

See you out there!