Apprenticeships continue to tick all the right boxes for manufacturing | EEF

Apprenticeships continue to tick all the right boxes for manufacturing

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Apprenticeship recruitment continues to take off

Manufacturers have always been true champions of apprenticeships, and our latest survey data reaffirms that. Almost three-quarters (72%) of manufacturers plan to recruit apprentices, up from 66% when we asked in 2014.

So why is this the case? Well, a lack of technical skills continues to drive recruitment problems. Apprenticeships are a perfect mix of technical knowledge, skills and training, and tick all the right boxes for manufacturers.

Graduate programmes are on a downward descent

Great news for apprenticeships, but what about graduate programmes? A slightly different story here. Whilst in 2014, graduate recruitment was level pegging with apprenticeship recruitment at 66%, it’s taken quite the tumble, with just over a third (36%) of manufacturers continuing their graduate programmes.

What’s driving the need for young talent?

There is a well-documented shortage of technicians in our industry – something highlighted not just by EEF but in the Government’s Industrial Strategy. Apprenticeships can play a key role in fixing this problem.

But we are also seeing a big recruitment drive of younger people into the manufacturing workforce. This is partly driven by an ageing workforce, with our survey showing that 80% of manufacturers saying the average age of their workforce is 41 or older.

Added to that, half of manufacturers expect up to a fifth of their workforce to retire within a decade. The need for succession planning and younger talent is therefore vital.

Where does the lesser focus on graduates leave universities?

Manufacturers aren’t giving up graduates, they are just increasingly looking for learners with a combination of vocational and academic profiles – that’s what makes degree apprenticeships so attractive.

But universities and the wider higher education sector need to be alive to these trends and understand that vocational learners are in high demand from employers and vocational pathways are an attractive offer for young people.

The recent announcement to allocate UCAS points to T level students had mixed response from universities. For us, it’s a no brainer. They must accept these learners – after all, they’ll probably be the ones that manufacturers, and no doubt other employers, will want to recruit.

Want to learn how you can recruit #GenerationZ? Join us for our workshop at our Annual Conference where you can hear from young people on what they are looking for from an employer. Sign up here.




Head of Education & Skills Policy

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