If an employer was to commit to benchmarking and best practice sharing to improve their Apprenticeship scheme, whilst pursuing an employer Kitemark accreditation that recognises excellent employers for Engineering Apprenticeships – what difference could that make to existing and prospective Engineering Apprentices?
That is the question that we have been asking recently to a variety of Engineering Apprentices, many of whom are employed at companies that have achieved the Make UK Engineering Apprenticeships: Employer Kitemark via the Next Gen Makers Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme.
Recent Government figures show that almost half of all Apprentices (47 per cent) are now dropping out of their course, and 70 per cent of those report problems with the quality of their training – equivalent to 115,000 apprentices every year.
As UK Engineering suffers from a severe skilled talent shortage, more companies in the sector are looking to Apprenticeships to bridge the gap, training the next generation of engineers. However, poorly structured Apprenticeship schemes leading to poor retention rates continue to plague the industry and to reverse these, prioritising quality of experience for Engineering Apprentices is vital.
“A good Apprentice experience includes offering a wide range of learning opportunities, keeping the workload really diverse and allowing them to work with a wide range of people will really help to develop their skills and help them to become the best apprentice they can be at the end of their scheme”, comments Billy Dryden who has now progressed onto a Higher Apprenticeship with Teledyne E2v.
Teledyne e2v is a manufacturer with its headquarters in England, that designs, develops and manufactures systems and components in healthcare, life sciences, space, transportation, defence, security and industrial markets. They recently recieved the Gold standard ‘Excellent Employer’ accreditation status.
Billy adds: “The Kitemark shows that companies are taking the time and effort to improve their schemes and their apprentice experience, even though a lot of them come from quite a good starting point already. It acts as a badge of quality, if you are a young person looking for an Apprenticeship, you know that any scheme that has the Kitemark certification will be of a certain level of quality, irrespective of industry”.
Ehsan Ilyas, an Engineering Apprentice at SMC Corporation told us that: “In my opinion a great Apprentice experience is to have really great people around you. People that are helpful and interested in what you are doing makes things a lot simpler.
“My employer being involved with the Next Gen Makers Best Practice Programme and Make UK Kitemark initiative shows to me that they care about their Apprentices, and makes me feel that this is a future programme that is benefiting the company. If we have young people interested in Apprenticeships with SMC, this Kitemark will help them to understand that this is a good place to progress your career in. More employers should pursue this Kitemark, because it also gives assurance to the company that what they are doing with their Apprenticeship scheme is in the correct format”.
Aisha Mustafa is an Engineering Apprentice at Alcester based Seco Tools, one of the world’s largest providers of comprehensive metal cutting solutions. Regarding the Engineering Apprenticehships Best Practice Programme, Aisha comments that: “The Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme is backed by Make UK and is a really good initiative which can ensure Apprentices learn the right kind of skills and have the right kind of support provided for them”.
Georgina Rhodes is a Design Engineer who continues to progress through the Apprenticeship Scheme at Ishida Europe. Ishida have successfully achieved the Make UK Engineering Apprenticeships: Employer Kitemark for the past two years. Georgina adds: “I have progressed from level 2 to level 4 during my Apprenticeship, and post that secured a full time pernament role as a Design Engineer at Ishida predominantly looking at our multi head weighing systems. I am currently studying a Foundation Degree in Mechanical Engineering Manufacture, with a view to pursuing a Batchelor of Science in the following year as well.
“For me as a young person, an employer that has the Kitemark is more attractive. I know that I am in an Apprenticeship scheme at a company that wants the best for me and I know that they are going to deliver the best of the best as well. The Kitemark is a key element that really elevates an Apprenticeship programme. I know from experience that Apprentices really like to talk about who they work for, and just being able to add the Kitemark reference in conversations really demonstrates I am working for a company where I can excel in my career”.
The Make UK Engineering Apprenticeships: Employer Kitemark accreditation recognises exemplar employers of engineering apprentices – companies that have undergone a 12-month accreditation process that includes satisfaction surveys of existing engineering apprentices and benchmarking of the company’s apprenticeship scheme against industry best practices. The Kitemark Accreditation is quickly becoming a badge of honour for companies that ‘go the extra mile’ in creating a great apprentice experience for the engineers of the future.
Companies are recognised with either the Gold standard Excellent Employer Kitemark status, or the Silver standard Aspiring for Excellence status – helping them to differentiate and stand out as attractive employers for potential engineering apprentices moving forward.
Next Gen Makers run the accreditation process as part of its’ Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme, which brings together SME and corporate engineering and manufacturing companies to benchmark their Apprenticeship schemes, share best practice and successful approaches and then be guided to implement improvements into their own scheme for themselves.