9 March 2015

Today’s the start of National Apprenticeship Week, designed to celebrate the opportunities and benefits of apprenticeships not only to the young people doing them, but to businesses and the British economy.

The UKFast apprentice class off 2014

The UKFast apprentices – class of 2014

However, whilst it’s a nice opportunity to shout about these things from the rooftops, there’s still some way to go when it comes to changing the way our young people are inspired and supported into careers.

One of the things we set out to do when we launched our apprenticeship scheme at UKFast was to reject the idea of apprentices as cheap labour. As such, we pay more than double the national average for apprentices, and help them gain the relevant industry accreditations.

It’s always disappointing to hear of businesses that view them as a way to get high output for very little input. That’s not to say that there aren’t some excellent organisations out there empowering and developing young people. There certainly are; Timpson’s and Rolls Royce for example. However, I fear some apprentices aren’t getting this kind of quality and support.

As businesses, it’s our responsibility to pay them the wage that they earn and to help them forge the careers that they want. Some companies worry about skills gaps, which in the tech industry has been talked about a lot, but if you can equip young people with the skills that will help fill this gap, you are part of the solution.

It’s time for all business owners to see these schemes as an opportunity to help both the apprentices and the business to grow together.

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