Apprenticeships – Are Fashion and Textiles employers accessing the offer

Apprenticeships are the Government’s preferred mechanism for funding vocational training, giving the Apprentice, normally within a two year programme of learning the chance to earn in employment with an employer.

The apprenticeships.org.uk website states the following benefits for employers include:

– Apprenticeships help businesses grow their own talent.

– Apprenticeships develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce.

– Apprenticeships improve productivity while reducing costs.

In 2013/14, there were 440,400 Apprenticeship starts in England (each of the four nations having their own national policies and funding arrangements).

Apprenticeships are an interesting issue as many sectors operating under different levels of compliance, entry requirements, cultures of training and development and funding arrangements. In this context, the Top 20 Apprenticeship frameworks in terms of 2013/14 Academic year starts are listed below:

Top 20 Apprenticeships by Framework 2013/14

Framework Starts
Health and Social Care 70,080
Business Administration 44,190
Management 33,140
Hospitality and Catering 32,010
Customer Service 31,320
Children’s Care Learning and Development 24,320
Retail 16,560
Engineering 15,550
Construction Skills 15,510
Industrial Applications 14,860
Hairdressing 14,670
IT and Telecoms Professionals 9,820
Active Leisure and Learning 9,130
Vehicle Maintenance and Repair 8,500
Warehousing and Storage 7,110
Accountancy 6,620
Electrotechnical 4,610
MES Plumbing 4,500
Public Services 4,470
Sales and Telesales 4,390

Source: Skills Funding Agency

Fashion and Textiles

Creative Skillset in the UK has been responsible for developing apprenticeship frameworks for the Fashion and Textiles sector where they are now available in each of the four home nations.

For Fashion and Textiles employers in England, the Fashion and Textiles Apprenticeship frameworks are available with ten separate pathways are currently accessible. This is alongside an additional two Higher Level Apprenticeships (equivalent to the first year of a degree) for Balanced Sourcing and Technical Textiles.

Ensuring skills can be both preserved and new technologies and processes utilised are at the heart of apprenticeship schemes. This is especially pertinent for a sector that is battling the issue of an ageing and retiring workforce and the need to pass on the tacit skills vital to supporting the revival in UK manufacturing.

Additionally, the changing role of technology and how products and processes evolve are also vital. However, this is also a sector which has little experience of formal Apprenticeships as the key skill mechanism, whilst also battling against a vastly reduced training infrastructure from the sectors employment heyday as schools and FE moved resource towards other sectors.

A booming business for Fashion and Textiles Apprenticeships in England

Fashion and Textiles Appenticeship’s in England have had a successful 2014/15 with uptake mirroring the positive sentiment in the industry at the moment. With three months of the 2014/15 academic year left, Apprenticeship numbers are already up on 2013/14 levels and above the 2011/12 figures which were to date the most successful.

The only downpoint so far has been no recorded take up of the Advanced Apprenticeship in 2014/15 to date following on from the initial 10 who took up the qualification on its development in 2013/14.

Apprenticeships

How do the historic figures break down….

Whilst the full year figures for 2014/15 will not be available for 6 months, interesting patterns can be seen in the historic annual figures on various indicators.

Firstly, it shows that there have been steady levels of uptake onto both the Intermediate and Advanced Apprenticeships. From 2010/11 levels, both have seen good steady increases. Significantly, it was between 2010/11 and 2011/12 that Apprenticeship levels rose significantly at both levels.

Gender splits are also interesting to note for with females more likely to be starting the apprenticeship with the 2013/14 figures showing double the number of females starting than males. A similar split can be noted across each of the levels.

Apprenticeships4

Analysing the age of Apprentices, this matches the funding structures in place. With no funding for over 25s it was unsurprising that in 2013/14, only 10 apprentice starts were in that age category.

Apprenticeships5

…and looking to the future

With funding arrangements and apprenticeships featuring high in the budget through a new apprenticeship levy announced in the budget this week along with the existing target for 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, how these policies impact the fashion and textiles sector will be interesting to see how it develops.


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