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Brexit: Boost or Bomb for Apprenticeships?

Just about everything is being viewed through the Brexit lens at the moment and apprenticeships are no exception.

Based on figures from 2015, 2.2 million nationals of EU countries work in the UK, many of whom are in skilled jobs, helping to maintain the NHS and manufacturing industries. This has caused many to question what will happen to these organisations, and how will they fill the skills gap when the UK finally divorces from the EuMetal Worker - Apprentice & Assessorropean Union?

Earlier this Spring, the Guardian reported on the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling’s comments regarding the importance of creating a ‘skills footprint’ during the construction of large investment projects. Mr Grayling called on decision makers involved in tender evaluation to make apprenticeships and skills development a key focus in their deliberations, in order to anchor a skilled workforce in the UK.

Mr Grayling is said to believe that if large investment projects make apprenticeship provision one of its priorities, decision makers are more likely to choose British firms for contracts and less likely turn to European manufacturers.

As ATDirect has reported before, there are a number of issues that need addressing under the current apprenticeship scheme, but many experts support the emphasis on learning and development in the workplace as a whole company ethos.

In The Work-based Learning Dividend, a research project by Genny Dixon (from In-Focus Reports – Towards Maturity), companies who fully integrated their learning and work-based training were more productive and produced better qualified, home-grown talent. Such integration requires a pro-active approach from companies, who value the innovation that new learners contribute, and incorporate it. Sadly, the study also found that only 15% of the employers surveyed had fully integrated learning, with 45% of learners saying they did not get the support they needed.

So, will Brexit benefit or disadvantage apprenticeships? Well, it looks as though investing in apprenticeships could be an advantage for companies who are willing and able to prioritise learning and development in the workplace. But, the reality may be very different if companies are unable to embrace the apprenticeship scheme as it stands.

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