National Apprenticeship Week

Cllr Jayne Francis, cabinet member for education, skills and culture, talks about the importance of apprenticeships.

Birmingham - ‘the city of a thousand trades’ - has an extremely proud history of creating and championing apprenticeships. 

It’s a history we’re really proud of and generations of Brummies have enjoyed long and successful careers after starting out as apprentices.

Historically many of the opportunities for apprenticeships in Birmingham were in the so called ‘traditional’ industries like manufacturing, but over the years we have seen more and more apprenticeships created across a wide variety of industries and business sectors.

Residents and visitors alike will have noticed the number of cranes in the sky; Birmingham is booming at the moment with lots of jobs moving here and exciting projects like HS2 and the Commonwealth Games coming up.

Unfortunately the number of apprenticeships in the city has so far not kept pace with these economic opportunities but, as a council, we are committed to seeing the number of apprenticeships increase across the whole spectrum of jobs and industries.

We have our business charter which uses procurement as a tool to create new apprenticeships through the supply chain and with major employers.

We also have a new workforce strategy, which recognises the opportunity for the council to create and influence hundreds of new apprenticeship opportunities across the city.

We have really strong relationships with our key partners, and we are starting to think more creatively about how we work together to create apprenticeships that respond to the needs of a new, flexible, transferable workforce and employer demands.

We are looking at how existing employees from different sectors, including our own, can be up-skilled and supported in continuing their life-long learning journey, helping them to add to their companies’ productivity and bringing new, up to date skills into the workforce.

We are seeing our universities across the city offer high level apprenticeships, and potential jobs for life in key sectors such as HS2.

And crucially, we are committed to apprenticeships being an opportunity for the many, not the few. 

More and more young people across the country are choosing apprenticeships as a great option to earn while they learn, but the national apprenticeship wage can mean that, for many young people, an apprenticeship is not an option.  It simply pays too little – far less than the national minimum wage and the living wage. 

This means for some young people, they have to choose jobs that have little opportunity for progression, instead of an apprenticeship. 

This is counter to the city council’s belief in equality of opportunity, and so we have committed to paying our apprentices a higher wage than the national apprenticeship one, so that this barrier to progress is removed.

Apprenticeships are a fantastic opportunity and at the council we will continue to throw our weight behind them, and recognise the achievements of apprentices across the city wherever possible.

This blog was published on 6 March 2019

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