A week in training: Leaders ramp up apprenticeship awareness

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Ahead of this week's Apprenticeship Week, leaders are looking to drum up awareness of the value of apprenticeships, writes Neil Davey, whilst research suggests that the message is sinking in. Elsewhere, there could be a skills famine for HR in the future - and graduation becomes a virtual experience.

Leaders raise awareness ahead of Apprenticeship Week

In the run up to Apprenticeship Week (commencing Monday 23 February), there have been calls for more employers to invest in students. The government recently called for one in five young people to get on an apprenticeship within the next 10 years and 90,000 more within the next five, and the week-long event - which is backed by Sir Alan Sugar - is designed to celebrate the role apprenticeships play in the business world and highlight the importance of apprentices during the economic downturn.

In the build-up this week, the head of the National Skills Academy Process Industries, Phil Jones, spoke to raise awareness of the event and the topic of apprenticeships.

"In the current economic circumstances, it is more important than ever to ensure that employees have the skills they need to help deliver success which is why businesses should continue to train. Training will help them through the current storm whilst also readying them for when the storm passes. We would like employers and students alike to take part throughout Apprenticeship Week, where events and awareness-raising activities are going to roll out across the country."

To support the ongoing awareness raising and the forthcoming apprenticeships marketing and communications campaign, Sir Alan Sugar will be joining Secretaries of State, John Denham and Ed Balls, in high profile events intending to motivate and galvanise more businesses to offer apprenticeships.

Good news on apprenticeships despite economic woe

And research undertaken by the Cogent Sector Skills Council suggests that the message is sinking in, with the findings highlighting employer plans to recruit over 300 apprentices during 2009, reflecting the fact that major companies in the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors are continuing to invest in the talent of the future, despite touch economic conditions.

"Even during these difficult economic times it is heartening to see process industry employer respondents committing to apprenticeship programmes," commented Mervin Dadd, Cogent director. "This mean that young people attain nationally recognised qualifications and employers get the skills they need to succeed and innovate."

Partnership pledges to boost skills for managers

Also responding to calls from the House of Commons to tackle skills shortages in response to the shrinking economy, The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) and the University of Portsmouth have announced a new partnership to help business leaders address the management skills gap.

The University of Portsmouth now offers a progression route from ILM qualifications through to a Masters in Leadership and Management, which is available through both distance learning and face-to-face study.

The organisations suggest that the new partnership represents a step toward greater fluidity between higher level qualifications, with senior managers now able to use ILM’s higher level leadership qualifications to contribute a substantial credit towards the University of Portsmouth’s MSc in Leadership and Management.

HR professionals being starved of skills

A new report has revealed that there are concerns that shared services are seriously reducing the skills of HR staff. More than half (56%) of the 200 respondents were worried there will be a severe lack of talented professionals ready to feed the next generation of HR chiefs.

Business school hosts first UK virtual graduation

Finally, a story to file under 'weird and wonderful' - senior BP employees from around the globe who completed a distance learning course received their certificates at a virtual graduation ceremony earlier this week. Second Life-style technology enabled the business to recreate a real life graduation, with speeches, specially designed gowns and avatars, based on the real academics.

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