With Apprenticeship Week Wales underway (Feb 7-13), Welsh businesses are being urged to rethink existing recruitment strategies to best manage future workforces.
Mark Jones, Principal of Gower College Swansea and Vaughan Gething, the Minister for Economy, are asking Welsh businesses to consider recruiting apprentices in a bid to fill vacancies.
Sectors with the highest number of vacancies include healthcare, social care, hospitality, and retail, all of which contribute to the record-breaking 1.2 million job vacancies* across the UK, as reported by the Office for National Statistics, last week.
Commenting on the need for change, is Principal of Gower College Swansea, Mark Jones: “The labour market is ever changing – and even more so in the past couple of years – and today, in many roles, businesses are looking for candidates to hit the ground running. But whilst this is completely understandable, new entrants to the job market are not always able to do this and this is one reason why we are urging businesses to explore the huge benefits of recruiting apprentices.
“As well as having the opportunity to train and shape an individual into your own business’ way of working; you will also have a new member of your team who is working towards industry-specific qualifications. Many businesses see apprentices as a way to future-proof the workforce, which is more important now, than ever.
“As we enter Apprenticeship Week Wales, we also want to raise awareness of the large number of apprenticeship pathways available, which span across all sectors. From business administration, social care, and retail, to engineering, hospitality, and customer service. As a college, we can, and do, work closely with businesses to guide and advise through the whole process, from funding advice right through to recruiting the perfect candidate.”
In a bid to support businesses as a result of Covid, the Welsh Government introduced an employer incentive scheme in August 2020. Which meant that employers could now receive up to £4,000 for each new apprentice hired on or after 1st March 2021. However, this incentive comes to an end on February 28, so businesses need to work quickly to take full advantage of the funding available to them.
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething, said: “Apprenticeships are a genius decision, for both employers seeking to future-proof their workforces while nurturing the talent that exists within Wales, and for people who want a proven route into employment that provides the opportunity to learn while earning a wage.
“Apprenticeship Week Wales is an opportunity for us to increase awareness and engagement with apprenticeships in Wales, and shine a light on the opportunities available to people right now.
“I believe apprenticeships will be vital as we emerge from the pandemic. That’s why we have committed to creating a further 125,000 Apprenticeship places over the next five years. We are a small country but we have big ambitions, and our aim is to create a culture in Wales where recruiting an apprentice becomes the norm for employers.”
A business that’s reaped the benefits of recruiting apprentices is Gareth Harry, founder of digital agencies, GR Digital and Zygo Media: “You will always need new people to join your business. Existing staff may move on, retire or you may be in a position to grow your team; and so it’s important that you have an effective recruitment strategy in place. I used to solely turn to universities to recruit but we have really seen the benefits of recruiting apprentices over the past two years.
“We feel as though we’re creating our own talent pool to futureproof our business. Apprentices don’t just do the job at hand, but they gain specialised qualifications at the same time. It’s fantastic for us as it means we have a highly skilled workforce that fully understands our business and industry.”
(Lead image: Adrian White)
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