Celebrating the Importance of Apprenticeships

Yesterday evening, ADS hosted a successful reception at the Houses of Parliament – which celebrated the important role of apprenticeships across the UK’s Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space industries.

More than 70 apprentices were in attendance to represent the 9,000 which span all 4 of ADS’ sectors. The apprentices were also joined by over 60 parliamentarians, 7 government ministers (including the Secretary of State for Business, Sajid Javid), two shadow cabinet members and the chairs of the BIS, Defence and Science & Technology Select Committees.


Apprentices at ADS Parliamentary Reception

The vital role that apprenticeships play in the future development of young people, of ADS’ own sectors, and the UK’s future economic prosperity overall, cannot be underestimated.

They offer young people training, enhanced job prospects and the unique opportunity to develop a wide range of skills in many different environments. Apprentices are able to work across their companies with different groups of people and departments – as well as the chance to engage with suppliers and customers, and attend receptions such the one held yesterday.

As Martin Flavin, UTC Aerospace’s Apprentice who spoke at yesterday’s reception, stated – “Apprenticeships benefit both individuals and businesses”. By developing a wide range of skills, apprentices are better placed to climb up both the company and industry ladder – and are more likely to become the CEOs, Chairman and industry leaders of tomorrow. (As an example, Boeing’s new President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg, started at the company in 1985 as an apprentice engineer).

Developing more apprenticeships in the UK is also a key part of ensuring the UK is able to compete on a global scale – particularly in the strong and highly competitive sectors of Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space. Countries around the world are also looking to apprenticeships as a way to boost and secure their future growth prospects, with Germany a leader in Europe, and US beginning to re-focusing its attention on apprentice training.

Germany’s education and industrial system has allowed them to regularly create 40 apprentices for every 1,000 workers. 1 in 5 of these are women, and 9 out of 10 will land permanent jobs. In the US, whilst manufacturing sectors took a hit during the recession, the debate on how to boost middle-income jobs to kick-start the economy is looking more and more at apprenticeships. This renewed focus is also seen at the highest echelons of US politics – with Presidential hopefuls Hilary Clinton, Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Scott Walker all promoting the value and expansion of apprenticeships.

The UK itself has seen a strong growth in apprentice numbers – with around 2 million created over the last 5 years. However, these successful levels must continue to be built on.

A greater emphasis should be placed on ensuring woman see the benefits of engineering apprenticeships – as in 2013/14, only 400 women started the engineering framework apprenticeship, compared to 12,880 men.

Also, encouraging greater numbers of apprentices in R&D functions will be vital to ensure the UK leads in globally competitive innovation and technology development. In ADS’ Annual Aerospace Outlook for example, 25% of companies surveyed were not confident in accessing the required R&D skills for their company to grow.

The government’s recent summer Budget is looking to build on past successes – announcing a new ‘Apprenticeship levy’ to encourage the creation of 3 million more apprenticeships. While this commitment and focus on boosting apprenticeship levels even further is welcomed, the levy must be designed carefully, to ensure it encourages all businesses to offer the high quality apprenticeships our economy needs.

With the debate now shifting to how the UK can develop more higher-level apprenticeships within its high growth sectors – it is the UK’s Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space Sectors which are the best placed to deliver. The strong shape of the sectors mean that young people should be attracted to our industries – with the average wage within the UK Aerospace sector (at £40,500) around 50% more than the UK average, and over 50% of the UK businesses within the sector investing in apprenticeship training.

Last night’s reception showcased not just the breadth of the UK’s apprentices in our sectors (with 22 counties and 45 company sites being represented) but also the potential for some of the UK’s most productive industries to be the drivers of growth in both the UK’s capacity for innovation and the UK’s economic future.