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The importance of apprenticeships – just ask Rachel

28 February 2014

I start with a reminder that we are in the people business. Our customers are valuable to us and so too are our team members as without them we would not be able to provide the level of service our customers want.

It is great to recognise the contribution that these staff members make to the business – and even better when their efforts achieve national recognition as is the case with Rachel Jones from LCC who was recently named Apprentice of the Year at the Quality Skills Alliance Apprenticeship Awards in Wales. Rachel completed a WAMITAB Level 3 Apprenticeship in Sustainable Resource Management through one of our approved centres, Smart Development. I would like to take this opportunity to offer my congratulations to Rachel on her achievement.

The majority of us will be familiar with the term apprentice, even if it’s only through the BBC TV show of the same name, headed by the redoubtable Lord Sugar. However, the on-screen dramas have little to do with the real business of apprenticeships, which is focused on vocational training.

An apprentice is defined as: ‘a person learning a trade from a skilled employer’, and this premise is an enduring and valuable one, especially for those working in the cleaning, FM, recycling and waste management industries. National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) takes place in England and Wales from 3-7 March this year, which makes this a great time to focus on apprenticeships and the benefits they offer. As always, the underlying theme is to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses, and the wider UK economy.  

According to the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), which co-ordinates NAW in England, there were 520,600 apprenticeship starts in 2011/12, an increase of 13.9% compared to 2010/11. This is encouraging and I sincerely hope that this upward trend is maintained. Statistics in Wales and Scotland also show an upward trend with over 61,000 learners registered in 2011/12 in Wales(1) and over 35,000 learners have been registered for Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland 2011/12(2). The situation is not so positive in Northern Ireland where there has been a drop of 30% from 8,948 2010/11 to 6,345 2011/12(3), but efforts are underway to redress this trend.

NAS also goes on to highlight some more positive statistics from research undertaken in England:

  • Employers think that qualified apprentices are 15% more employable than those with other qualifications. (4)
  • Young people are increasingly making apprenticeships their first choice with 54% of young people stating that they would like to do an apprenticeship if one was available. This rises to 66% of young people who are already employed, but receiving no training. And 56% of those who are already university students said they would like to do an apprenticeship. (5)
  • Up to 20,000 apprenticeship vacancies are available online at any one time at apprenticeships.org.uk. And in 2012/13, over 1.4 million applications were made online – an average of eleven applications for every apprenticeship vacancy. (6)

By completing an apprenticeship, individuals gain an industry-recognised qualification that is designed to be relevant to you as an employer. The added bonus is that some of the qualification cost is funded (investigate funding available in your area – there may be regional variations within each of the four nations so it is worth checking at local level). Apprenticeships are a priority for governments across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and therefore it is important that you see how they can support your business development plans.  

WAMITAB is pleased to offer a range of apprenticeships suitable for organisations in the sustainable resource management, facilities management and cleaning industries, including:

  • Level 2 Apprenticeship in Cleaning Services
  • Level 2 Apprenticeship in Local Environmental Services
  • Level 2 Apprenticeship in Facilities Services
  • Level 2 Apprenticeship in Sustainable Resource Management
  • Level 3 Apprenticeship in Facilities Management
  • Level 3 Apprenticeship in Sustainable Resource Management

Apprenticeships do work – for employers and employees – and they bring many benefits to businesses looking to forge ahead in the competitive cleaning, FM, recycling and waste management industries. It would be great to see the cleaning industry recognised for outstanding achievement in learning through apprenticeships. Contact WAMITAB so that we explore how apprenticeships can benefit your business and how your employees can follow the example of Rachel and the thousands of others engaged in apprenticeship programmes.


For more information visit:


www.apprenticeships.org.uk (England)

www.nidirect.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsni (Northern Ireland)

www.apprenticeshipsinscotland.com (Scotland)

Apprenticeships in Wales (Wales)

(1) Welsh Government, 2014

(2) Skills Development Scotland , 2012

(3) Northern Ireland Assembly, January 2014

(4) ICM Employers Research, England, 2013

(5)ICM Research for National Apprenticeship Service, England, August 2013

(6)Apprenticeship vacancies data, England,  2012/13


Written by Chris James, CEO of WAMITAB