National Apprenticeship Week: Launch of campaign urging small to medium sized businesses to train new talent and fill skills shortages

A campaign urging small to medium sized businesses to train new apprentice talent and fill skills shortages across South Yorkshire has got underway this week.
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National Apprenticeship Week, running from 5th to 11th February 2024, showcases how apprenticeships work for employers, learners, communities and the economy.

The newly established South Yorkshire Apprenticeship Hub is backing the national campaign.

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During the week, it will be highlighting the support available to SMEs so they can address skill shortages and hard-to-fill vacancies.

National Apprenticeship Week: Launch of campaign urging small to medium sized businesses to train new talent and fill skills shortages.National Apprenticeship Week: Launch of campaign urging small to medium sized businesses to train new talent and fill skills shortages.
National Apprenticeship Week: Launch of campaign urging small to medium sized businesses to train new talent and fill skills shortages.

The hub provides impartial guidance and connects employers with the best training provider for their needs.

SMEs in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield are invited to visit the South Yorkshire Apprenticeship Hub for more details and book an online consultation.

Based on Broad Street West, Sheffield, the hub is funded by the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) and the South Yorkshire Colleges Partnership.

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Keith Richardson, Manager, South Yorkshire Apprenticeship Hub, said: “Small to medium sized employers are the lifeblood of our economy. The South Yorkshire Apprenticeship Hub provides free impartial advice that helps SMEs to develop their workforce and get the right skills for growth.”

The hub officially launched in Rotherham in December 2023 with a long term aim to recruit and train at least 300 apprentices. Its remit also includes raising awareness of apprenticeships amongst parents and carers and learners.

Business chiefs from across the region are also backing the campaign.

Shane Young, Operations Director, Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a fantastic service driven by a passionate team to support our local business communities across South Yorkshire.

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“Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber understand the importance of supporting young people through apprenticeships and we have our own success stories of colleagues who have pursued a career starting out as an apprentice.

“The hub is on hand to help and guide businesses on making the right decisions around apprenticeships and we are proud to be involved in this great support service.”

Dan Fell, Chief Executive Officer, Doncaster Chamber of Commerce, commented: “National Apprenticeship Week is important because it highlights how transformative apprentices can be for businesses and the positive impact they have on the economy.

“It is pleasing to see how much the region has got behind apprenticeships in recent times. The new South Yorkshire Apprenticeship Hub and Apprenticeship Levy Matchmaking Service are two excellent innovations that are making it even easier for businesses to get impartial advice and to invest in tomorrow’s workforce.

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“I would encourage businesses to make apprenticeships an integral part of their workforce development strategy where possible and to use this week as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the great things they are already doing.”

Louisa Harrison-Walker, Chief Executive, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, added: “We are hugely supportive of this initiative that creates a one stop shop for employers and people looking to take up apprenticeships.

“Our members tell us that creating a strong pipeline of skilled workers is incredibly important to the long term viability of their businesses. We know the opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’ is a hugely attractive proposition and will help future proof the skills needed for our regional economy to prosper.”

Apprenticeships enable young people and adults to earn as they learn on-the-job skills, study a qualification, progress in a career and gain employment afterwards.

Apprenticeships are available at different levels, including university level. The government contributes 95% of the training costs for SMEs.

New national data shows that apprenticeship starts were up by 7.0% for 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. Under 19s accounted for 32.7% of starts, according to the Department for Education statistics published in January 2024.

Meanwhile, advanced apprenticeships (equivalent to Level 3 vocational and A Level qualifications) accounted for 43.0% of starts whilst higher (university level) apprenticeships grew by 9.9% in 2023 and accounted for 35.3% of starts.

To find out more about the benefits of apprenticeships, visit the South Yorkshire Apprenticeship Hub https://www.southyorkshireapprenticeships.org/.