The Interserve Society Report: are apprenticeships the path to success?

Are apprentices the path to success?

In 2015 we published our first ‘Interserve Society Report’1, which examined the public’s attitude towards big business. The survey made for uncomfortable reading, highlighting a growing divide between large employers and the communities they serve. It did, however, also reveal some of the foundations on which business could rebuild trust with the public. Providing jobs and, crucially, apprenticeships was seen as critically important.

This report takes a detailed look at attitudes towards apprenticeships, emphasising some of the main opportunities and challenges. It also provides a timely snapshot of attitudes and perceptions amongst young people, parents and employers at a point when the new Apprenticeship Levy has firmly pushed the issue up the business agenda.

This is not a new issue for Interserve. Like many other businesses, we have long recognised the importance and value of apprenticeships. We have inspiring examples of apprentices who started out with us on the shop floor and are now managers and leaders, and we have hundreds of apprentices making a real difference to our business day-in, day-out, while gaining vital skills and experiences for their future careers. It is something we have long been passionate about.

However, this research shows there is much more to do. Positive attitudes towards apprenticeships still rank lower than other, largely academic-based career pathways among young people and their parents. There is, however, a significant shift when both are given a bit more information about the different standards now available – such as Higher and Degree Level Apprenticeships – showing just how important awareness and understanding are. There are many other interesting insights – regional variations, subtle differences between large employers and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) – which businesses and policy makers need to take on board.

We plan to more than double our current intake levels onto apprenticeships in the years ahead, so a sound understanding of how current attitudes and perceptions may impact this approach is vital. We also aim to develop new higher and degree apprenticeship pathways to run in parallel with our graduate recruitment programmes, so context around these pathways is important. We also want to build on the 3,500 work experience placements for school students we’ve created in the last two years, to do more to ensure young people understand the opportunities open to them. For Interserve, this report offers considerable insights into how best to ensure that apprenticeships get the support they deserve.

This research shows some of the challenges we – and by extension many other businesses – face. It is clear that apprenticeships suffer from an image problem and don’t currently have the same prestige associated with them as university education. We need to change this perception if we are to see apprenticeships become a driving force for skills and sustainable careers in the future.

Read the Interserve Society Report here.

  1. Changing attitudes: how big business and society can work together. 78% of those surveyed said that providing jobs or apprenticeships was the most important way that business could contribute to the local community but only one in six people believed that sufficient opportunities were being provided.

Find out more about our apprenticeships…

Apprenticeship levy – The apprenticeship levy, introduced by the UK government, comes into force in April 2017. Over the next year, Interserve will bring you the latest information on the issue via a series of blog posts. Read our first post, Introducing the apprenticeship levy, here.

Early careers – Our wide range of apprenticeships reflects the diversity of our business. Interserve apprentices could find themselves working on a multi-million pound construction or facilities management project, making a real difference from day one.

Interserve Learning & Employment – Our aim is to redefine the future of people and places by delivering education and work-based learning that will support economic growth.