In-Comm Training’s 3rd annual Training Barometer, which sought opinions from 105 companies, found that 67 per cent of companies had taken on apprentices during the last twelve months, whilst 97 per cent retained all their learners despite the pressures of Covid-19.
Looking forward, 70 per cent of businesses are committing to taking on an apprentice over the next year (up from 47 per cent in 2021), with 69 per cent giving employees the opportunity to progress learning to HNC or degree level.
The optimistic outlook is tinged by the impact of the pandemic, which has resulted in nearly a third of companies cutting back on their training budget. Similarly, barriers to embarking down the vocational route continue to be dominated by a lack of in-house infrastructure and understanding of all the different apprenticeship standards currently available.
“These results show a massive shift change from last year with companies reaffirming their commitment to investing in vocational learning, underlining the major strides apprenticeships have made over the last few years and the value management teams place in them,” Gareth Jones, managing director of In-Comm Training said in a statement.
“Despite all of the pressures, the turmoil and the restrictions, bosses believed it was vital to retain existing learners and, importantly, continue to invest in new ones as they didn’t want to be hit with a skills gap when the recovery started.”
He continued: “This is none more pertinent than in engineering, where there is a lack of talent and the people that are out there are demanding extortionate wages. Growing your own is the only sustainable way of getting around this situation and those that held their nerve during the pandemic have come out of it better.
“Looking at the bigger picture, the key barrier for training is releasing staff from core activities [49 per cent] as many of them were focused on continuous improvement activities during the downturn, in order to improve processes/quality, implement automation and reduce waste.
“The second biggest challenge was identifying the right course for what the business needs (19 per cent), proving that, as a sector, we need to make things simpler.”
The In-Comm Training Barometer also asked respondents about why they invest in apprenticeships, with nearly two thirds of respondents citing a desire to develop future talent as their primary objective. This was followed by ‘fulfilling a skills gap’ and ‘retaining skills within a business’, although reskilling was valued by only one per cent of companies.
Over half (58 per cent) cited inflation as a significant barrier to attracting and retaining staff.
The final major concern from employers is a ‘skills drain’ that comes from older workers retiring. Here 70 per cent of businesses are concerned about the impact on staff and their ability to meet the requirements of their customers.