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Apprenticeships – Improving our Workforce

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As chair of the apprenticeship programme board for the Civil Service, I am excited to be a part of the drive to increase the opportunities for social mobility and the capability of the Civil Service.

This model offers us the opportunity to get a wider range of talent into the Civil Service, because we will be attracting people who have aptitude and potential, as well as those with established skills. And for those who take up an apprenticeship, they will receive professional, structured training and mentorship leading in most cases to a recognised professional status.

We have committed to an unprecedented increase in apprenticeships in the Civil Service and will achieve at least 30,000 new apprenticeship starts by the end of the Parliament. In order to achieve this we will maximise numbers through planned external recruitment; encourage short term contracts to enhance skills in the wider economy; offer our current workforce increased opportunities to re-train and up-skill, by converting existing roles to apprenticeships; and enhance our current talent apprenticeship scheme, the Civil Service Fast Track.

We are leading the way by developing new apprenticeships standards, with Civil Service Learning (CSL) co-chairing the creation of new standards in Leadership and Management and Digital. CSL have launched seven apprenticeships in six months, working relentlessly to get these approved by BIS in such a short period of time. You can find out more about the new standards by reading Jake McClure’s blog, Head of Apprenticeships at CSL.

While high profile communications have focused on the Government’s target for apprenticeships, it is important to remember the wider benefits apprenticeships offer. The apprenticeships team in the Cabinet Office has done some research on benefits and identified the following key indicators:

Benefits for the employer:

  • 82% of employers take on apprentices to build the skills capacity within their business*
  • 75% of apprenticeship employers say the programme has helped cut recruitment costs*
  • 81% of apprenticeship employers say they make their business more productive*
  • 80% of employers feel that apprenticeships reduce staff turnover*

*Source: Apprenticeship Evaluation: survey of employers 2014

Benefits for the employee:

  • 83% of apprentices said their career prospects have improved*
  • Apprentices completing a higher apprenticeship could earn £150,000 more on average over their lifetime*
  • Opportunity to develop transferable skills, in line with professions that can be applied across the economy
  • Ability to earn and learn at the same time

* Source: English Apprenticeships: Our 2020 Vision. Department for Business Innovation and Skills and Department for Education.

As I go around talking to civil servants, people are excited about the possibilities: the opportunity to gain a recognised, transferable, professional qualification and the chance to earn and learn at the same time.

And we should keep in mind above all the scope to improve the diversity of the Civil Service, with all the value that brings in terms of new talent coming in and higher performing diverse teams. The Government has prioritised improving social mobility, which also has a proven effect on improving our employment of underrepresented groups, and it is this longer-term benefit that I think is the most exciting opportunity.

Julie Taylor

Director General, Head Office and Commissioning Services, Ministry of Defence

Visit the Fast Track homepage on GOV.UK for more information on who can apply, how to apply and the different apprenticeship schemes on offer. 

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