Next Monday sees the start of the seventh annual National Apprenticeship Week, and in recognition of the important place that apprenticeships have on local economies, and the part they are playing in addressing the growing skills gap, we are going to be running articles every day throughout the week, in partnership with City & Guilds.
A Brief History of Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships are of course nothing new, having been around since at least as far back as the Medieval period, when parents would pay a Guild Master Craftsmen to teach their children a trade, usually for a period of seven years. The system was a fairly loose one until Elizabethan times, when it began to be made more formalised, and over the centuries that followed, this formalisation process continued with numerous pieces of legislation being brought in to ensure certain standards were met regarding things like working conditions.
In terms of numbers, apprenticeships rose to a peak half-a-century ago — with almost a quarter of a million apprentices by the mid-1960s — before falling out of favour over the next few decades. By the year 1990, the numbers of people doing apprenticeships in England had fallen to just 53,000. The fall seems to have been a combination of several things, including the increase in people continuing in full-time academic education after 16, and the also the introduction of “apprenticeship-lite” programmes such as the Youth Training Scheme and later the Youth Training programme.
However, over the next couple of decades, the increasing gulf between the skills that employers need, and the skills that young people have — the skills gap — has widened. As it has done so, the need to address the situation has become increasingly urgent and consequently, apprenticeships have been making a comeback and are now seen as a crucial part of addressing the problem.
According to the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), there were 279,700 apprenticeship starts in the 2009/10 academic year in England, with 171,500 successful completions. NAS, whose aim is to bring about significant growth in the number of employers offering apprenticeships, has responsibility for the delivery of apprenticeships including employer services, learner services, and a web-based vacancy matching system. Part of this remit also includes running the annual National Apprenticeship Week.
National Apprenticeship Week
The event is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy. According to NAS, the overarching theme for this year’s National Apprenticeship Week is “Great Apprenticeships”, and the objectives are to:
- Increase awareness, understanding and demand for apprenticeships.
- Celebrate apprenticeship talent, skills, achievements and successes.
- Promote all apprenticeship levels and progression routes, including traineeships.
What will we be covering?
Throughout next week, in partnership with City & Guilds, we will be looking at a different industry or occupation each day, sifting through our data to reveal some of the major trends and headlines in that sector. Our aim is really to add a little bit of context to some of the major areas in which apprenticeships are done. The sectors we will be covering are as follows:
- Monday – Construction
- Tuesday – Business, IT & Customer Service
- Wednesday – Finance
- Thursday – Health and social care
- Friday – Engineering
We hope that these pieces will be helpful in contextualising where the major demand is likely to be in these sectors, both now and in the years to come, and that this will in turn give a better understanding of where apprenticeships might be needed to plug future skills gaps.
EMSI and City & Guilds are working in partnership to deliver an innovative new service to FE Colleges. City & Guilds Advance provides colleges with a detailed labour market review, linked to their current curriculum and identify gaps in provision leading to a full quality review of key subject areas to address key Ofsted requirements. To find out more please visit the City & Guilds website.