The benefits of hiring apprentices are well publicised. In a recent poll, 50% of employers found that apprentices stay in their business longer than any other recruits, and 75% say they actively promote their apprenticeship credentials when pitching for new business. Nationally, the government is still looking to have 3 million new apprentices by the end of its parliament, and in our industry, initiatives like the Rail Sector Skills Delivery Plan and the Transport and Infrastructure Skills Strategy are creating an environment where high quality rail apprenticeship programmes are both attractive and vital. And of course, in many cases, with the Apprenticeship Levy on the horizon, it might actually be of detriment to NOT hire an apprentice.
If you’re still not convinced, here are three (more) benefits that you may have not yet considered.
Apprentices open doors
Figuratively speaking, the desire to support and develop young people across the industry is strong, and it brings people together. This year we’ve seen over 30 rail and non-rail organisations come together to create standards for apprenticeship learning that are redefining what it is to be an apprentice in our industry. We’ve seen age-old competitors work together to attract learners and build truly first-class development programmes. The skills agenda, and particularly the development of apprentices, is helping businesses to connect.
At NTAR, we encourage this collaboration not only at an organisational level, but at a local one too. We have deliberately placed apprentices in mixed cohorts that span rail businesses and disciplines, across the country. We’re helping to develop a new generation of multi-skilled, networked rail professionals. (We also work to ensure employers assign varied, meaningful, and relevant tasks to their apprentices – not just menial tasks).
Apprentices are good for the culture of a business
We’ve been party to the findings of a recent business culture investigation project. Over the last six months – through workshops, meetings, management reviews, and employee exhibitions – the project team have been able to identify some key themes that underpin employees’ experience. One of the most prevalent: apprenticeships.
To many people, apprentices represent their employer’s optimism about the future – a sign of the prosperity and growth. To others, it instils them with a sense of responsibility and accountability – mentoring and supporting a learner as they start their career and in turn enhancing their own leadership capability. Apprentices also represent change to many employees – a business developing to tackle new challenges and taking advantage of new perspectives. What is common with all employees, however, is that apprenticeships are a positive for an organisation, and that learners must be given adequate care and support.
Apprentices make awesome apprenticeships
We spend all day thinking about how to make our apprenticeship programmes awesome, but often the most important and useful ideas come from the learners themselves. The Learner Voice is an integral part of any high-quality apprenticeship programme, and gives learners not only the opportunity to feedback, but to also make significant and beneficial changes to their scheme (and sometimes beyond). We’ve worked with apprentices to fully understand their perspectives and write whole new schemes of work. We use a variety of innovative and fun ways to encourage, capture, and act on the Learner Voice, and are confident we can help your organisation draw on this potentially untapped potential.
Unlocking these benefits
At NTAR, we are uniquely placed to help employers unlock all of the benefits mentioned above, and more. We have a network of partner colleges that deliver our content to bespoke classes across the country, allowing employers access to high-standard, rail-contextualised apprenticeship training and assessment on their door step. Combined with our intimate knowledge of government funding, we are able to offer a complete, cost-effective solution for employers’ apprenticeship needs.
Being involved in their development, we are one of the only providers to be able to offer provision of the new Rail Engineering standards. We can deliver the specialist Rail Engineering qualification units either as part of a wider programme or on their own, using our industry expertise and awarding-winning facilities. The standards call for a high level of rail-specific learning, and we have the capability to deliver it. Finally, we use a range of technological solutions that make our programmes engaging, stimulating, and authentic. Learners are encouraged to feedback to the community in real-time using social media, are given access to mobile tools for progress checking and CPD-capture, and can explore aspects of Rail Engineering in virtual reality. We deliver training and assessment that meets the needs of Gen-Z learners.