Nearly two thirds of manufacturing and engineering firms plan to take on apprentices in the next five years, according to new research released to mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week.
The study of 600 businesses finds that of those, 39 per cent of them intend to do so in the next 12 months and it suggest that that nearly half of firms across all industries (44 per cent) plan to offer apprenticeships by 2019. Last year, 36 per cent said they had plans to take on apprentices.
The findings show that one in five smaller companies (20 per cent) and more than a third (37 per cent) of larger firms will be taking on at least one apprentice in the next 12 months. Around a quarter of those polled (26 per cent) said the apprenticeships are likely to play a bigger role in their recruitment policy in the future.
Of those that were planning to hire apprentices, many said that they were doing so because they wanted to bring a fresh approach to their business, because they had successfully employed apprentices in the past or because they thought these workers were essential to the future success of their company.
The poll also found that more than two in five (43 per cent) of firms say they are more likely to employ an apprentice now than they were two years ago.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "As we kick off National Apprenticeship Week it's good to see that employers are increasingly recognising the value apprentices can bring to their businesses.
£Apprentices are now a key and valued part of the workforce for most businesses large or small – and the huge increase which this Government has overseen is one of my proudest achievements."
A number of firms have announced plans to recruit apprentices over the coming year. BT announced last week it is creating more than 700 new apprenticeships and British Airways said it would be taking on 185 this year in areas ranging from engineering to IT, finance and project management.
Kwik Fit said it is creating 150 new jobs for apprentices, the majority available to 16 to 18-year-olds, while nuclear engineering and construction firm Doosan Babcock said it will be hiring over 500 apprentices.
The beginning of National Apprenticeship Week has also seen the launch of the EngTechNow campaign – first announced by the Prime Minister last summer – with bosses at five major UK companies becoming the first to back the push to promote routes for technicians and engineering apprentices to professionally register as Engineering Technicians (EngTech) and enhance their career prospects.
The campaign is targeting 100,000 Engineering Technician registrations by 2020 and senior figures at the construction project Crossrail, global defence company BAE Systems, civil engineering contractors Bam Nuttall, engineering and project management consultants Atkins and engineering, IT and facilities firm NG Bailey, have committed to increase the number of EngTechs in their own workforce.
Crossrail Technical Director Chris Sexton said: “We have graduate engineers who are involved in design work and in the supervision of works, but the everyday coal face engineering and construction is carried out by engineering technicians.
“Clients are always looking for properly qualified staff in contractors, engineering technicians are an important part of that picture. The EngTech qualification is a guarantee of quality, because it guarantees a level of competence and an achievement, recorded formally through a professional organisation.”
Simon Howison, Engineering Projects Director at BAE Systems, said: “Professional registration is a great opportunity for apprentice engineers and technicians. It is a clear indication of the high standards apprentices and technicians have achieved and will really boost the perception and status of careers in engineering. I'd encourage every company to get on board and join the campaign. Let's have at least 100,000 UK Engineering Technicians registered by 2020.”