Apprenticeship Levy can boost engineering skills

6th Apr 2017

The apprenticeship levy is the best chance in a generation to bridge the engineering skills gap, according to our professional sectors.

The levy, which comes into effect on April 6, will create an apprenticeship fund accessible for all employers, with only those with wage bills over £3m having to pay in.

The aim is to create three million new apprenticeships by 2020, and conceivably to give engineering – a sector which represents 27% of UK GDP – the boost it needs in securing its influence on the world stage.

SOE President Shaun Stephenson said: “The apprenticeship levy represents a turning point in the need to strengthen the UK’s engineering talent. By investing, companies will grow and ensure they are growing both in-house skills and the leaders of the future.

“SOE are fully behind apprenticeships, and have the right team in place to ensure we are supporting new and existing engineers taking this route,” he said.

Perceptions of apprenticeships are changing, with employers understanding that the conventional route of education does not always produce the skills necessary for business requirements.

Successful marketing campaigns have altered the image, with many big organisations now keen to invest in modern, purposeful schemes – a point incoming SOE President Howard Seymour was keen to make.

“We are seeing a big movement back to apprenticeships, and it is easy to see why. Many young people now want to get into employment and get experience of the working environment. Employers want young people they can train for the skills they do not already have,” he said. “But it’s not just about the young. This a chance for people of all ages to up-skill and move forward in their careers”

Engineering apprentices can study for EngTech and IEng, often building portfolios from the practical work they have done in their employment.

Ian Chisholm, SOE Chief Executive, says many organisations will prosper with the help of the apprenticeship levy. He said: “It’s now down to businesses to really take advantage and embrace this change. This represents training at all levels and something we, as an industry, have been crying out for.”

One problem successive governments have failed to positively address is the number of women in engineering, which remains at around 9% in the UK. Considering girls do so well in STEM subjects up to GCSE, this figure is disproportionately low, yet it is hoped the new levy will give employers and training providers the funding needed to adapt their programs.

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