STEM apprenticeships could add £6bn in social value, report claims

A new report from engineering consultancy WSP claims that there is around £6bn in social value waiting to be unlocked from UK STEM apprenticeships.

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WSP worked with the New Economics Foundation to apply the Social Return on Investment (SRoI) methodology to its own apprenticeship scheme, measuring the initiative’s outputs compared to its cost. It was found that for every £1 invested in its apprenticeship programme, £2.26 was created in return for stakeholders. By extrapolating from that figure, it was estimated that a total social value in excess of £6bn would be reached, based on the 114,400-young people that started STEM apprenticeships in England in 2017.

“If every company involved in STEM fields and looking to apprentices to bolster their skills shortage were to apply WSP’s approach, our report found that the social value created could exceed £6bn,” said Jane Grant, head of Learning and Development at WSP.

“This research clearly demonstrates the value apprenticeships bring to a business and to the wider society. We launched our apprenticeship programme back in 2010 with only one apprentice and are now proud to employ more than 180 apprentices with a further 80 joining us in September.”

Although WSP’s figure for SRoI were collated before the apprenticeship levy came into effect, Grant believes the levy will have a positive impact, allowing WSP to offer a wider variety of apprenticeship options.

“The levy has allowed us to continue tackling the skills gap in engineering by diversifying our offering of apprenticeship programmes to have both school leaver and degree level apprenticeships,” she said. “Only 27 per cent of 11 to 14-year olds admit to knowing what engineers do, much less transport planners and environmental consultants, yet engineering and related fields represent a quarter of the UK’s GDP.”

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