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New apprenticeship scheme from Greater Cambridge Partnership will plug skills gap in the region

A new apprenticeship scheme aimed at plugging the city’s skills gap was launched on Wednesday (July 3) by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP).

GCP Apprenticeship launch, Madingley Hall from left Dr James Gazzard, Anne Bailey, Rachel Stopard, Elzabeth Tillet, and Aliastair Easterfield. Picture: Keith Heppell. (13393409)
GCP Apprenticeship launch, Madingley Hall from left Dr James Gazzard, Anne Bailey, Rachel Stopard, Elzabeth Tillet, and Aliastair Easterfield. Picture: Keith Heppell. (13393409)

The scheme, supported by the Cambridge Independent, aims to create more than 400 new apprenticeships across Greater Cambridge. It has been developed to plug the skills gap and fulfil a need for better trained and qualified employees in what is Europe’s largest technology cluster.

Rachel Stopard, GCP chief executive, said: “Greater Cambridge has seen an unprecedented level of growth in recent years – but for it to continue for the coming decade and beyond we must make the right choices now. And that includes having the workforce to support the jobs growth now and in the future.

“The GCP is working to support our future economic growth – and ensuring everyone is ready to seize the opportunity of our growing economy is critical to this.

“Apprenticeships can play a significant part – diverse, important roles that could be the start of a career in one of the most exciting parts of the country to work in.

“That’s why it is fantastic to launch Greater Cambridge Apprenticeships today – a new service that links potential apprentices with the businesses that need people – matching talent with the training, education and opportunity – and making it as easy as possible for all involved.”

Around 57,000 people are employed by the more than 1,500 technology-based firms in the area, which have combined annual revenue of more than £13billion.

The scheme welcomes students seeking any type of apprenticeship but especially the much sought-after STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths.

Two organisations, Form the Future CIC and Cambridge Regional College (CRC), will work together to manage the new service on behalf of the GCP.

Many schools and parents find it difficult to advise young people on apprenticeship opportunities, so the service will help students to find, apply for and secure a position.

CRC will support businesses by helping them to establish how their skills gaps could be filled with apprentices, to find the right training provider, and to understand charges, grants and other considerations.

Form the Future will be responsible for communicating the service to students and parents and highlighting the opportunities that apprenticeships can provide. It will also help students get onto schemes with employers via group work, careers fairs and provision of 1:1 preparation.

Mark Robertson, principal and CEO of Cambridge Regional College, said: “We’re delighted to be part of the initiative for which we will be both a delivery partner and training establishment. The college plays a vital role in ensuring our students learn skills that employers want.

“Apprenticeships are a wonderful opportunity for students who do not wish to go to university but want to secure a skilled and rewarding job. It’s also very satisfying to be playing a key part in helping boost the region’s growth.”

GCP Apprenticeship launch, Madingley Hall, Anne Bailey. Picture: Keith Heppell. (13393426)
GCP Apprenticeship launch, Madingley Hall, Anne Bailey. Picture: Keith Heppell. (13393426)

Anne Bailey, co-founder and director of Form the Future CIC, said: “It is clear that there is increasing awareness about the benefits of apprenticeships. For young people, they are a great way to move from education into work, giving them hands-on experience and qualifications while earning a salary. Many young people love the practical nature of learning on the job that an apprenticeship offers.

“For employers, there are numerous factors. Apprenticeships help plug their skills gaps, but they can also improve productivity, boost competitiveness and help improve staff retention. Government figures reveal that nearly every employer (97 per cent of them) that takes on an apprentice reports benefits to their business.

“But our research shows that around half of parents and students admit to knowing nothing about how to find and apply for apprenticeships, and just under half of students have not been given any encouragement to consider an apprenticeship.

“So the new service, for which we are a delivery partner for the Greater Cambridge Partnership, will encourage students and be crucial in explaining apprenticeships and the options open to them. As part of this, we have appointed some apprenticeship ambassadors who will share their experiences and extol the benefits and advantages. I think hearing from young people already taking an apprenticeship will make a significant difference in our campaign.”

Engineering apprentices in discussion (13185609)
Engineering apprentices in discussion (13185609)

The scheme will encourage schools and employers in the region to sign a pledge committing to taking an active role in the service.

The overall approach is to challenge preconceptions about apprenticeships: who can sign up, the types available, the benefits – including the chance to ‘earn while you learn’ – and crucially, how to land an apprenticeship role.

Aidan Van de Weyer, chair of the GCP, said: “Greater Cambridge is growing and we must do all we can to make sure we make the most of this incredible growth and opportunities here. Increasing the number of apprenticeships is a key commitment of the GCP and helps both those getting into work and businesses themselves.

“I’m delighted to see this service launched today to help get those looking for an apprenticeship in touch with those who can deliver them.”

A new website – gcapps.co.uk – will enable candidates to register interest and enable employers to promote apprenticeship opportunities.

What students need to know

Apprenticeships are a great way to jumpstart your career. Whether you are leaving school and looking for a job that pays you to gain qualifications or ready to take on new challenges in your job, many employers offer apprenticeships as part of in-work training and development.

When can I apply?

Apprenticeships are advertised all year round. Unlike UCAS there is not a standard deadline. So it is important to keep an eye on vacancies. We recommend you register on the government website Find an Apprenticeship to get regular alerts: gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship. Apprenticeship advisors can help you search and apply.

Which companies offer apprenticeships?

Live opportunities in Greater Cambridge are highlighted on gcapps.co.uk, but it is worth looking at the national picture, too, to see how many different types of apprenticeships are out there. Vacancy Snapshot showcases some of the best-known employers in the UK and their apprenticeship programmes. It also offers a unique look behind the scenes at the employers and provides hints and tips for the different recruitment processes. Visit amazingapprenticeships.com/vacancies.

What about levels?

Apprenticeships start at level 2, the same level as GCSEs. If you are starting an apprenticeship after GCSEs, most start on level 2. Some might do level 3, which is equivalent to A-levels. There are also apprenticeships at levels 4 and 5 which equate to HND or foundation degree level and then there are full degree level apprenticeships at level 6. There are even a few level 7, master’s degree, apprenticeships, too.

Higher and degree apprenticeships are widening access to the professions. Degree apprenticeships give you the opportunity to attain a degree while training in a top flight career. Tuition fees are paid for by your employer and the government and you will be learning and earning a salary from day one. To see what the options are, visit: gov.uk/government/publications/higher-and-degree-apprenticeships.

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