Apprenticeships: A wise investment in uncertain times

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In this article: During heightened economic uncertainty, apprenticeships should be an obvious solution for the motor industry, which thrives on vocational training. Here are five reasons to invest in the COCID-19 era

1. Supply and demand

Amid the economic crisis, there is a large pool of talented people available and looking for job opportunities, and there have long been skills shortages across the motor industry, especially vehicle technicians.

Many of these job-seekers will be youngsters that the motor industry really needs, to replace its ageing workforce. An earn while you learn apprenticeship will be attractive to many people, potentially lowering the cost of recruitment. 

“This autumn youth unemployment has sadly skyrocketed due to Covid-19,” says Simon Ashworth, Chief Policy Officer at the Association of Employment and Learning Providers. “For employers, the talent pool of keen, hungry young people hasn’t been as competitive for many years, so it’s a great time to take someone on.”

2. Fresh blood

Apprentices will fill a crucial skills gap that the motor industry has been struggling with for many years. “We have an ageing population in our sector where many people have been in this business for 30 years or more,” says Sabina Hegarty, Managing Director of training provider Calibre Group Solutions.

“At some point these people will retire or move on, leaving gaps further down the chain. The apprentices of today could be looked at as potential talent to fill those future management vacancies.”

She also believes that employers have a moral responsibility to build the next generation of automotive workers and give young people hope amid fears of a youth unemployment crisis.

03. Cash incentives

The government is providing extra cash incentives to employers who take on a new apprentice at any age. Until January 2021, a business that hires a new apprentice aged between 16 and 24 will receive £2,000, and companies that hire an older apprentice will get £1,500.

While employers should not be taking on apprentices purely for a financial gain, the new incentives can help companies with the cost of hiring and training a new apprentice, which can be substantial.

Moreover, for smaller employers that are the backbone of the motor industry, apprenticeship training is still heavily subsidised by the government, which picks up the bill for 95% of the training costs.

4. Digital expertise

With the ageing workforce and simultaneous rapid advancements in electric vehicles, apprentices will help the automotive industry with its digital transformation in order to meet tough emissions requirements. 

“Younger apprentices are more confident in dealing with advancements in skills and technology: electric content is part of their first academic years,” says Katie Saunders, Group HR Director at JCT600, which runs more than 50 car dealerships.

“It’s an unfortunate fact that vehicle technicians who are decades out of their apprenticeship and approaching retirement can be less willing to engage in technical training.”

5. Return on investment

Apprenticeships are a wise investment for uncertain times. Upskilling staff amid a slower period of business will put you in pole position to ramp up output when the economy recovers. Apprentices tend to be loyal and are cheaper than hiring experienced staff from your competitors. Apprentices can also outperform older workers with bad habits.

With a range of apprenticeships and levels available, employers can offer recruits career progression and ensure long-term succession planning.

“Invest now and gain a competitive advantage by having better trained and more loyal staff for tomorrow,” says Hegarty.

Need more information? Head to the IMI’s apprenticeship pages to find out what benefits they bring