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15 July 2022

Growth of employer confidence and investment in apprenticeships

Employers Work-based learning Youth employment Foundation apprenticeships Graduate apprenticeships

A national survey of employers shows almost one in five have taken on apprentices, continuing a positive trend.

The statistics show 19 per cent of employers offered Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships in 2021 - an increase on the 16 per cent reported in 2019 and building on a rise in numbers since 2014.

In the Scottish Government survey of 1000 firms, 40 per cent said they planned to continue or start offering apprenticeships in future - up from 26 per cent in 2019.

The majority who offer apprenticeships plan to continue doing so with 92 per cent confirming their intentions.

New and continued investment

Some 53 per cent of employers with more than 100 staff said they offered apprenticeships.

The Scottish Employer Perspectives Survey also found that 79 per cent of organisations offering Modern or Graduate Apprenticeships had done so for more than three years.

Among employers who had been offering apprenticeships for a shorter period, eight per cent had started to do so within the previous 12 months.

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Securing new talent and skills

Overall, 58 per cent of employers said they offered apprenticeships for reasons related to acquiring talented staff. Almost four in ten companies who had started to offer apprenticeships in the last three years said their key motivation was securing skilled workers. In previous employer research by SDS, 83 per cent of businesses said taking on apprentices had improved the company’s productivity, while 79 per cent reported better staff morale.

SDS Chair Frank Mitchell said: "Employers repeatedly report how much they and the economy benefit from apprenticeships.

"Providing work-based learning opportunities helps attract talented and motivated young workers to secure the skills employers, individuals and the economy need for the future.

“Apprenticeships also provide opportunities for harder to reach individuals and those from marginalised communities in Scotland, enabling employers to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce.”

Supporting youth employment

The findings in the survey also support the crucial role of apprenticeships in the Scottish Government’s Young Person's Guarantee, which aims to provide opportunities for every 16 to 24-year-old.

Whilst 28 per cent of firms said they offered apprenticeships to ensure a flow of young people into their company or sector, around a quarter said they did so to give young people the chance of an opportunity. The data showed apprenticeships were mostly offered to under-25s, with 90 per cent of staff in that age bracket. Around six in ten companies (57 per cent) offered apprenticeships to people who were 25 and over.

Figures published by SDS in May showed the annual number of Modern and Graduate Apprenticeship starts rose to 26,548 from April 2021 to March 2022 – 34 per cent higher than the previous year.

Apprenticeships vital to the economy

The Scottish Government has pledged its continued commitment to apprenticeships, aiming to bring annual starts back pre-pandemic levels and to then see how much further they can go.

Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training, Jamie Hepburn MSP said: “Apprenticeships will play a vital role in supporting Scotland’s economic recovery and renewal, giving employers access to a talent pipeline and the means to reskill their workforce.

“As part of our recovery we will build back up to 30,000 starts and assess demand to see how much further we can go.

“We are determined to ensure young people have opportunities to build their confidence, gain industry insight and develop valuable skills the economy needs both now and in the future.”

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