Apprenticeship benefits in the spotlight

The important role apprenticeships can play in Lancashire’s economic recovery from Covid-19 was highlighted at a top-line gathering of businesses and education training providers.

The 2021 Lancashire Apprenticeships Conference, organised by Lancashire Business View, attracted a host of speakers, panellists and 60 delegates from across the county.

The online event took an in-depth, look at the apprenticeships programme in Lancashire, including how it has evolved in recent years and broadened its scope.

It also discussed the benefits to both employers and learners of the apprenticeship route and the role that training and education will play in bridging Lancashires skills gap.

The growing partnership approach being taken by employers and education and training providers to tailor apprenticeships to the needs of the countys businesses was also highlighted during the event, hosted by Lancashire Business View publisher Richard Slater.

The conference also examined the need to get more of the countys SMEs involved in shaping the training landscape as well as engaging with more young people about the positive impact apprenticeships have on individual lives.

Lisa Moizer, of the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub, said it was vital that more conversations took place, so that both businesses and individuals better understood the benefits to them.

Lancashire has an incredible history and legacy of developing apprenticeships

She also highlighted the positive contributions that apprenticeships make to individual businesses and the value that they add.

Lisa told delegates: For every pound spent on an apprentice, £21 is gained by the national economy.

She shared research showing that 74 per cent of employers believe apprenticeships have improved their products and service quality, with 78 per cent saying they had boosted productivity.

Lisa added: Lancashire has an incredible history and legacy of developing apprenticeships. Weve got a huge amount of experience.

She said the government was backing the apprenticeship system, however there was a need to challenge some misconceptions, adding: The best way to do that is for employers to speak to other employers about their actual experiences and to share their fantastic stories.

To that end three conference panel discussions, involving company bosses and training and education providers, examined the future of skills and looked at apprenticeships for businesses and for people.

The conference also heard from Jane Cole, managing director of Blackpool Transport, and Yaseer Ahmed, director of strategy and organisational development at Preston-based tile, bathroom and kitchen business Roccia.

They explained impact apprenticeships have had on their organisations and highlighted how they are not just about training new staff but can make a positive difference to existing workforces.

Jane revealed how the upskilling of staff had played an important part in Blackpool Transports transformational journey, including a leadership programme developed with Blackpool and The Fylde College.

She said: They understood that we needed to have not just technical skills in the organisation but leadership skills as well.

Yaseer told the conference about his companys work with Prestons College to create a tiling academy and how it is also looking to use the apprenticeship system to upskill its existing workforce.

He added: “It is a long-term investment and it is without doubt worth that investment.

The Lancashire Apprenticeships Conference 2021 was held in association with +24 Academy, Blackburn College, Blackpool & The Fylde College, Burnley College, Nelson & Colne College, North Lancs Training Group, Pierce Chartered Accountants, Preston's College and Upskilling Lancashire, The University of Central Lancashire.

It was the latest in Lancashire Business Views Insight series – debates which aim to get to the heart of the issues that really matter to businesses in the county.

A full report on the conference will appear in the March-April edition of Lancashire Business View.