Business

Businesses can build for the future by embracing apprenticeships

Businesses can build for the future by embracing apprenticeships

EARLIER this month we heard the welcome news that unemployment in Northern Ireland reached its lowest ever level.

However despite these figures more can be done by businesses to encourage young people into work or increase their skills whilst in employment and the way to do this is through apprenticeships.

Skills availability is a pressing concern facing local firms. Surveys show that skills at all levels are becoming increasingly hard to acquire. A 2017 CBI NI survey suggested that 96 per cent of members believe that Northern Ireland is facing a growing skills shortage. UK Government figures highlight that 89 per cent of apprentices are satisfied with their apprenticeship; 97 per cent said their ability to do the job had improved, and 92 per cent said their career prospects had improved, while 87 per cent of employers said they were satisfied with the programme.

By investing in apprenticeships and providing relevant training employers can help avoid skills shortages and increase productivity.

When people think of apprenticeships their minds may drift immediately to the construction or trade industries when in fact there is a large demand for apprentices across a range of sectors, with an increased call for apprenticeships in digital and social media.

It was great to gather for the Apprenticeships Employer Engagement Breakfast event at Belfast City Hall on May 15. Many people spoke with passion how businesses can tap into the pool of talent the city has to offer and how they can invest in apprenticeships to help build a highly skilled workforce.

It was also interesting to hear why some companies in the past had been hesitant to take on an apprentice. Some are not clear on the process or have had poor experiences in the past often putting time into someone who didn't wish to engage in work.

The ApprenticeshipsNI programme is employer-led training provision, with employers creating apprenticeships in line with their business needs.

At Seetec we only look to place an individual on the ApprenticeshipsNI programme into a career that is right for them. Our team carry out an informal interview process to find out the career path a person wishes to take and it is only then we put them forward for a vacancy that is right for their career prospects and will benefit the employer. The company gets a young person looking to learn and develop in their business and the apprentice gets secure employment from day one and the skills and experience so they can thrive in their industry.

For employers now is the time to start offering apprentice opportunities with May being an important time in the year for school leavers and students. Many people will be weighing up their options and completing their exams. Will they opt for college, university or immediately look to get a job?

The important message is to ensure that young people understand there is a choice and that there are local employers that will embrace them into their organisation.

To find out more about ApprenticeshipsNI look up www.seetec.co.uk/employer/ni

:: Julie Gorman is operations manager at Seetec

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