The increasing popularity of apprenticeship schemes received a boost this week with NG Bailey announcing a record-breaking year for applications.
The UK’s largest independent engineering, IT and facilities services business has received an unprecedented surge of 4,000 applications in the first four weeks – double the rate seen in 2015.
The company, which unveiled its highest-ever response at the start of National Apprenticeship Week, said the ‘earn and learn’ route was now more popular than ever as an alternative to further academic study.
Not only that, but the quality of applications it has received, shows there has been a significant shift in the way apprenticeships are perceived as a career route.
Frank Clayton, head of group learning and development at NG Bailey, said: “We have been overwhelmed this year, not only by the number of applications received but also by the quality. It’s significantly improved on previous years.
“The answers being provided on application forms are much more detailed and thorough, proving this is a considered career choice.
“It’s obvious that people have researched their career path and are applying because of a desire to undertake an apprenticeship, rather than because of a lack of other options.
“There’s also more relevant work experience this year than ever before. Applicants are approaching construction firms, gaining experience or attending careers fairs. To see applicants pro-actively researching and understanding the benefits this path offers them is hugely encouraging.
“It’s clear that the message about earning whilst learning is being heard and young people and schools are now seeing apprenticeships as a high quality and prestigious path to a successful career.”
NG Bailey is recognised for having one of the UK’s best apprenticeship schemes, having trained more than 5,500 apprentices since the 1960s, with 130 currently on its books and another 60 places available this year across 12 different schemes. The company spends circa £3m a year on apprenticeships and employee training and development.
David Hurcomb, chief executive at NG Bailey, added: “Offering apprenticeships has been, and continues to be, vital to the success and future of NG Bailey, and to the industry.
“Apprentices currently make up more than five per cent of our workforce, and play a key role in increasing the pool of talent available to meet the future requirements of our business.
“I’m heartened that the messages about the benefits of apprenticeships are finally beginning to take hold among young people and educationalists and I’m excited by the potential that this year’s candidates are already demonstrating.”