Associate feature: The benefit of apprenticeships in addressing skills needs
Recent headlines around apprenticeships falling to a ten-year low are a stark reminder of the need to continue investing in skills, particularly in early careers. It’s been an incredibly challenging time for businesses over the past seven months and there are undoubtedly difficulties that lie ahead, so recognising the role of apprenticeships in fostering the next generation of skills is key.
While university is still often perceived as the ‘go-to’ route for school leavers, and is the right path for many, for others it’s not always necessarily the right option. And with economic constraints building, the pandemic has provided people with the opportunity to assess exactly what they need from their education, whether that’s purely academic or more vocational, practical training.
With apprenticeships, businesses can give young people an opportunity to learn, and demonstrate their valueadd, which contributes to a well-equipped workforce in the longer-term. Not only is an apprentice trained up on the technical skills needed to actually do the job, they’re also immersed in a company’s culture and way of doing things, so they’re ready to hit the ground running and contribute directly to the organisation as soon as they graduate – the benefits are two-fold.
Our site in East Kilbride has been offering apprenticeships and benefitting from apprentices’ skills for over 20 years now. In fact, all of our apprentices in East Kilbride have gone on to secure a full-time role with us. And the programme has really evolved - engineering remains at the heart of our apprenticeship programmes, but this has developed over time to offer less traditional options. In 2019 we made the decision to offer apprenticeships in subjects like logistics and business administration and we’re pleased that we will see two apprentices start on our logistics programme this year, and our first two apprentices have just embarked on their degree apprenticeship journey.
The early careers landscape is changing. We’ve seen various funding announcements from UK governments this year, demonstrating their efforts to highlight the role apprenticeships can play in the nation’s economic recovery, and Skills Development Scotland continues to work in partnership with industry to develop new qualifications. Businesses need to shift their thinking to recognise the benefit of apprenticeships in addressing their skills needs. This is a huge advantage for those in their early career but also those already well into their career development looking to upskill. We fully recognise this and remain committed to developing our apprenticeship programme in Scotland
Sharon Blyfield, GB Early Careers and Apprenticeship Lead at Coca-Cola European Partners
This piece was sponsored by Coca-Cola European Partners