The UK government has confirmed that it is on track to fill higher apprenticeships starts across the country in a bid to get 3 million more by 2020.
Today’s government figures showed that since the start of the 2013-2014 academic year, more than 22,000 higher apprenticeships have been supported across industry, a target the Chancellor George Osborne vowed to hit in his Autumn statement in 2013.
The provisional number of apprenticeship starts in engineering and manufacturing technologies is expected to be 65,800 from August 2014 to April 2015 in England. However, that seems unlikely as the UK engineering sector is currently battling a skills crisis with the IET estimating 87,000 new engineers are required per year to meet demand.
Nick Boles, skills minister, said: “We listened to what employers told us they needed and have invested in apprenticeships to ensure their workforce have the quality skills needed to grow the business.”
Rolls-Royce is one of hundreds of companies that support higher apprenticeships, running a programme at facilities across the UK. The company's development manager, David Campbell, said: “We understand the value apprentices can bring to a business and look to attract people with real potential.”
Jessica Bestwick, 21, from Nottingham is one of the people Campbell mentions, doing a higher technical apprenticeship at Rolls-Royce in Derby. She started with the company three years ago and will soon complete her apprenticeship in mechanical engineering.
“Thanks to starting a higher apprenticeship with Rolls-Royce, I have been able to progress my career, earning a real wage and gaining a degree at the same time," Jessica said.
“My job involves working within the different civil aerospace product development teams to gain an understanding of what is involved in developing and manufacturing civil large engines for our customers.
“I would never have dreamed when I left school after completing my A-Levels that I would be where I am now. I would recommend a higher apprenticeship to anyone.”
Higher apprenticeships allow young people to gain the skills required by employers through 12 months of on-the-job experience while studying for a degree or higher-education qualification at the same time.
There were 9,200 higher-level apprenticeship starts in the 2013-2014 academic year, and provisional data shows that there were 13,200 starts in the first three quarters of the 2014-2015 academic year across all sectors.