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More apprenticeships needed to combat growing skills gap

With schools shut and exams cancelled, many students, and their parents, could be missing out on important careers advice as young people navigate their post-16 options.

New research from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) reveals that a third (32%) of engineering companies are still looking to recruit and train apprentices and graduates to fill skills gaps.

During National Apprenticeships Week the IET is calling on companies to work with schools to show young people that apprenticeships, particularly in the engineering sector, are a great career choice and can help tackle future skills challenges such as combatting climate change.

Stephanie Baxter, IET Skills and Education lead, says: “Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for young people to continue their studies, whilst experiencing the realities of work. They give employers an opportunity to develop the skills of young people to fill emerging roles and fill critical skills gaps.

“We need to start changing people’s mindset – apprenticeships hold no lesser value than other traditional academic routes and should be considered as equal. We need schools, parents and businesses to collectively push this message to encourage uptake.”

Despite the appetite to recruit apprentices, over a third (38%) of engineering employers are still expressing concern that apprentices don’t understand the realities of work in their industry and that they don’t have the necessary technical skills (34%).

Stephanie added: “Employers should be flexible in their expectations of young people leaving education who may have missed out on key training and practical opportunities caused by lockdown.

“It’s disappointing to see there is still a low perception to the quality of young people entering the engineering sector.  There are lots of challenges facing us now, such as fighting climate change and transforming our digital world. We believe by improving our understanding of these challenges; we will be able to create work ready recruits that have the ability to tackle problems that don’t yet have a known solution.

“Engineering apprentices can be a big part of our next generation of talent, we just need everyone to get behind it.”

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