At EAL, we are delighted to celebrate the start of National Apprenticeship Week.
This week represents an opportunity to reflect on the value that apprenticeships deliver across the UK as an incredibly important part of our skills eco system; they offer a real opportunity for individuals to develop their skills and competencies in a chosen field.
Our intention at EAL is to use these weeks of focus to beat the drum for the parity of esteem they deserve. For too long apprenticeships have lacked recognition as being a vital route into fulfilling careers, making a major contribution to the economic and social fabric of society.
Our message, not just during Apprenticeship Weeks, but every week, is that the perception of apprenticeships needs to change particularly among teachers, parents and guardians – those who influence and guide young people into making decisions about their future. Apprenticeships are jobs and a gateway to opportunity and self-fulfilment, and best of all without the financial burden associated with academia.
At EAL, we are enormously proud of the heritage that underpins apprenticeships, especially those within advanced manufacturing and engineering. Some of industry’s most successful business leaders have followed this route – Andy Palmer, former CEO of Aston Martin, and Lord Bamford, Chairman of JCB to name just two.
Navigating the system and making informed decisions
Education reforms have played a highly effective part in protecting and promoting technical – rather than just academic – routes into careers. The challenge is to ensure that our technical skills eco system remains sustainable and that it is clear, understood and valued.
It is vital that young people and those guiding them can navigate the skills landscape with ease and, importantly, with confidence that their decisions will result in enduring qualifications that will achieve long-term employer recognition.
Education reforms and subsequent reviews ensure standards remain high, that they reflect the requirements of industry, and that they are fit for purpose. At EAL, we take an agile approach to ensuring qualifications meet employer and policy requirements.
A stable skills landscape with clear pathways is a vital step towards increasing apprentice numbers and reassuring those involved in guiding young people towards this route that the decision to pursue a technical, skills-based qualification will serve them well and enable them to contribute to a prosperous and productive economy.
Attracting the teaching talent
Another area of focus for EAL is ensuring we attract and retain the right training and assessing talent into the sector. These are integral roles which require occupational experience and understanding, and the ability to engage and communicate it. We are committed to building the capability of trainers and assessors through educational and technical upskilling and reskilling – all a key part of the eco-system.
We are extremely mindful of the need to protect apprenticeships by ensuring the right people are attracted into training provision; as with those deciding which route to take to pursue a career, we are also working to make it clear how it is possible to pivot within a career.
The past two years have proven extraordinarily challenging; young people have suffered lost learning time and disrupted placements – something that risks ongoing effects on industry. Addressing these impacts will remain a long-term challenge and one we are acutely cognisant of.
At EAL, we are also determined to ensure our product strategy and portfolio equips our customers and learners with the right skills to achieve success. We operate in dynamic, competitive and highly technical industries; ensuring the qualifications we create and deliver skills that meet the requirements of the industrial digital revolution and relentless focus on sustainability is a leading strategic priority.
Lots will be happening throughout this week to celebrate those pursuing this route into careers and those enabling them to reach their potential – employers, assessors, mentors and tutors.
On a personal level, apprenticeships mean everything to me, I feel an enormous sense of pride to serve engineering and manufacturing through an unwavering commitment to skills and the future workforce. We are focussed on building capacity and capability within our Centres of learning, and place the individual - whose qualifications will be central in enabling them to achieve their ambitions – at the heart of all we do.