As National Apprenticeship Week approaches we look at why more British manufacturers need to invest in the next generation
With UK manufacturing now showing signs of growth it is very depressing to read that it is a lack of skills that is holding British industry back.
Whenever I speak to manufacturers about the issues that they are currently facing, the lack of young people coming into their workforce comes up constantly, which is why I believe that more companies should invest in taking on apprentices. I use the word invest, because employers do not receive any monetary incentive from the government to take on apprentices, and whilst they are learning the skills required for the job, they are not yet adding value to the business. But the long term benefits to both employer and employee can be immense.
Mulberry, which has one of the largest apprentice training schemes in the fashion industry, has found that the majority of its apprentices stay on with the company long after their training is over and go on to have rewarding careers ahead of them. As Ian Scott, Mulberry Group Supply Director puts it – “If you want to grow your business for the future, bring in apprenticeships…I believe the future managers of Mulberry are within our apprentices.”
If you watched the TV programme Mary’s Bottom Line you would have seen Mary Portas getting her Kinky Knickers business off the ground with the help of apprentices trained under the Creative Skillset Apprenticeship scheme, which supports skills and training for the UK creative industries. The training that they provided, via a training company called KTL (read KTL Chief Executive Tracy Martin’s blog about it here), gave unemployed youngsters with no previous design or manufacturing experience the opportunity to learn the skills required to work in the fashion industry. Not only that, but with it the chance for a new generation to see that making a career out of manufacturing can be much more rewarding than working in a shop.
As the above video from Creative Skillset shows, having the practical, hands-on experience of working on the factory floor can give someone much more industry knowledge than going to university can – and I can speak from experience. As someone who studied design at college I got a bit of a shock the first time I stepped foot inside a manufacturing unit – everything just looked so much bigger and more complicated than I had ever imagined!