Firms pledge to create thousands of new apprenticeships

The Co-op said almost £8m has been pledged by more than 30 businesses for its Levy Share service, which will create around 1,000 apprenticeships.

Firms are marking National Apprenticeship Week by offering thousands of placements in jobs ranging from engineers to technicians (Rui Vieira/PA)
Firms are marking National Apprenticeship Week by offering thousands of placements in jobs ranging from engineers to technicians (Rui Vieira/PA)

Firms are marking National Apprenticeship Week by offering thousands of placements in jobs ranging from engineers to technicians.

Some of the country’s biggest companies are announcing how many apprentices they plan to take on.

The Co-op said almost £8 million has been pledged by more than 30 businesses for its Levy Share service, which will create around 1,000 apprenticeships, with an emphasis on targeting under-represented groups.

Apprentices at the Mercedes-Benz UK National Apprentice Academy (Paul Rogers/The Times/PA)

The service was launched last year for businesses in England to pledge unspent apprenticeship levy money which would otherwise have expired.

Co-op Group chief executive Steve Murrells said: “The current apprenticeship levy can incentivise a business to invest in its people, but the Government need to trust businesses to make apprenticeships truly accessible and ensure that opportunities are distributed fairly so that we as a country can level up.

“With changes to the apprenticeship policy and more flexibility, I know that the Co-op and other businesses could increase the number of apprenticeships each year by 40% – which would bring an established career and bright future for thousands of young people.”

Virgin Media O2 announced it is creating more than 200 new apprenticeship roles across the country to support its aim of upgrading the UK with first class gigabit broadband and 5G mobile services.

As the apprentices of today will become the leaders of the business in the future it is vital that the foundation of their learning keeps pace with the needs of the market

Paul Binks, KwikFit

The number of apprentices recruited by rail firms Southern Thameslink and Great Northern last year exceeded its target of 200 by almost 20%, it was announced.

The rail operator said the 31–40 age group accounted for almost three-fifths of the total number of apprentices from 2017 to 2021, adding that it has been successful in its commitment to attract a greater number of female and ethnic minority applicants.

Automotive repair and servicing company Kwik Fit said it plans to expand its apprenticeship scheme and recruit more than 300 apprentices in 2022.

Paul Binks, group people director at Kwik Fit, said: “Like in many industries, the skills and knowledge required in the automotive sector are changing rapidly.

“As the apprentices of today will become the leaders of the business in the future it is vital that the foundation of their learning keeps pace with the needs of the market.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (far right) chats with apprentices during a visit to the HS2 ‘superhub’ at Oak Common station in west London in June 2021 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“One obvious example is the growing number of electric vehicles on our roads. We need to ensure we have the technicians to service them and so our apprentices get a grounding in EVs as part of their programme.”

HS2 said 80 apprenticeship vacancies will go live this week, with more to follow in the weeks and months ahead, as it seeks to expand the 20,000 strong workforce already in place delivering the first two phases of the rail project from London through the Midlands and on to Crewe.

Bus and coach operator Stagecoach said it has reached the milestone of having its highest ever number of apprentices currently employed – more than 1,000.

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