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British Gas

Pandemic drives increase in later-in-life apprenticeships

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To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, new analysis of apprenticeship data by British Gas reveals half (50%) of apprenticeship starters in the UK last year were aged 25 and over.

This trend is further supported by new British Gas apprenticeship data which shows the average age of their new Smart apprentices is 29 years old.

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Last year, despite the pandemic’s impact on the economy, there were 321,400 apprentice starts, a fall of only 0.3% compared to the previous year. Greater employment uncertainty during the pandemic (49%) and learning a new skill (46%) were cited as the top considerations to undertake an apprenticeship.

The research also reveals that almost one in four (23%) are concerned about the effects of the pandemic on their future career prospects with almost one in five (18%) having had to re-evaluate their career path – rising to 23% for those aged 25-44.

While over 25s account for half (50%) of apprenticeship starters in 2020/21, 16 years old was selected as the best age the to undertake an apprenticeship (30%), with those aged 55-64 most likely to hold this view.

Percentage of Apprentice Starts by Age each Academic Year

AGE2018/192019/202020/21
Under 1925%24%20%
19-2429%29%30%
25+46%47%50%

Over a third (36%) of Brits believe an apprenticeship provides better career prospects than a university degree as it provides employment as well as training, with only 15% believing a university degree is the best option.

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However, almost two in five (37%) believe there is a lack of information in colleges and secondary schools to highlight apprenticeships as a viable career path and an alternative to university.

In fact, one in five (20%) stated their university degree provided little to no relevance to their current employment.

Nine in 10 (91%) respondents believe apprenticeships are effective at improving career prospects, but according to the figures some sectors have been more affected by the pandemic than others.

Leisure, Travel & Tourism and Retail & Commercial Enterprise have seen the biggest falls since 2018/19 (60% and 40% respectively), consistent with the industries which suffered throughout the pandemic.

Health, Public Services & Care, Business, Administration & Law were the best performing apprenticeships with 97,500 and 95,900 starts in 2020/21 respectively, both increasing year on year.

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Engineering and Manufacturing has continued to be the third most popular apprentice subject with 39,500 starts in 2020/21 which is little surprise as three in five (61%) believe engineering apprenticeships will provide skills that continue to be relevant in the future.

With over 9,000 highly trained engineers and technicians, British Gas are constantly scouting for new talent including apprentices, no matter what their age, gender and background. In order to provide a secure career path and create the green skills to deliver net zero, British Gas is recruiting 3,500 engineers by 2030, that’s one every day for the rest of the decade.

They are also putting steps in place to improve diversity and inclusion, pledging to attract and employ more female apprentices than any time in their 200-year history.

Claire Louise Beard, British Gas Apprentice, 42, worked for 18 years in consumer facing retail role before relocating and looking for a later in life career change.

She said, “When I relocated last year, I knew I wanted a different career. With my transferrable skills, I wanted to work in a customer focused environment. So when I saw the apprenticeship vacancies at British Gas, I was drawn to learning something new in a completely different sector, which would give me that customer interaction as well.

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“While a career change can be nerve-racking I would wholeheartedly, unreservedly, without a shadow of a doubt advise people to take the leap of faith into a new career and don’t let anything hold you back!”

Racheal Olorode, British Gas Apprentice, 21, was one of many people who lost or had to leave their job during the pandemic. Previously working in retail, she felt the industry, her career and job security were all too uncertain, which led her to leave her job and try a new challenge as a British Gas Apprentice.

She said, “When I was younger, I wanted to be a lawyer because of the things I used to watch on television. I never thought to myself I could be an engineer because I never saw a female engineer growing up.

“When I lost my job in retail due to the pandemic, I needed to find a job that was always going to be in demand and luckily British Gas were hiring. I love that I am the role model that I never saw represented before and hope my story will inspire other women to apply for engineering roles. “

Karen Hutcheson, Director of Resourcing Delivery at British Gas says: “We are committed to developing the next generation of our workforce by recruiting 3,500 apprentices before the end of the decade. Our apprenticeship scheme is one of our primary modes of recruitment as we strive to support people looking to gain new skills, whether they are aged 16 or an experienced professional seeking a change of direction later in life. It’s essential we that we have a truly diverse workforce.

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“At British Gas, we want to ensure we have a skilled workforce that can help our customers transition to new low carbon technology. The apprentices and engineers we are recruiting will be playing a huge role in supporting the ambitious targets of the Government to make net zero a reality. Together, we can create a more inclusive and sustainable future that supports our communities, our planet and each other.”

(Lead image: British Gas)

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British Gas

Vampire devices drain £1.6bn from UK households

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As millions continue to spend more time than ever before at home, new research by British Gas has revealed that Brits could save 16% on their electricity bills each year by switching off their vampire electronics, those that continue to drain power when left on standby.

With the average annual electricity bill currently at £474.44*, Brits could in fact save an average of £75 per household per year, which totals to over £1.6bn across all UK households, by simply flicking a switch.

Following the government announcement just last week that stricter rules are set to ensure manufacturers make appliances such as TVs and washing machines more energy efficient, the new research shows that simply switching appliances off when not in use could also be a short-term fix to reduce the electricity they use over their lifetimes.

The research has revealed that almost one in five (15%) are unaware that many household appliances actually use up electricity whilst not in use as over two in five (42%) admit to only occasionally switching these appliances off. Almost one in three (29%) said they wish they’d known appliances were costing them money whilst on standby.

Unsurprisingly, almost seven in 10 (68%) said they would switch off these appliances now they know they could save the pennies. Interestingly, over three in four (77%) of those aged 65 and over said they would switch off appliances to save money on bills, compared to just over half (54%) of 18-24-year olds who found the idea less appealing.

However, almost one in five (17%) said that they will continue to leave appliances on standby when inactive despite the fact it could save them money. Two in five (42%) said this was because the effort of switching them off isn’t worth the cost saving and one in five (21%) said they wouldn’t because they just don’t care.

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Almost nine in 10 (88%) people use their microwave for less than 2 hours a day and yet more than six in 10 (61%) said they never switch it off. Only one quarter (24%) said they switch off their games console when not in use and again, just one quarter (25%) switch off the coffee machine when it’s not brewing, meaning three in four have it plugged in sapping energy 24/7.

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Marc Robson, Smart Energy Expert at British Gas said: “While colder weather and more time at home during this third national lockdown means a rise in bills is inevitable, there are some things we can do to reduce our energy usage at home which will really help the bank balance and the environment.

“Almost a third of total heating costs in the home are wasted through the roof and the walls and with vampire appliances, this figure is almost half of our electricity bills on wasted energy.

“Just switching some of these off can really help save straight away and those with a smart meter will be able to see the impact of this in real time. Turn it down or turn it off is a great motto for fighting the vampires.”

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* based on British Gas annual electricity bill 2,900 kWh usage

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