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Businesses must invest in apprenticeships if Yorkshire is to thrive, says Ward Hadaway

Businesses must invest in apprenticeships if Yorkshire is to thrive, says Ward Hadaway.

His comments come following a new paper from West Yorkshire Combined Authority officers which reports that the number of people taking up apprenticeships in the Leeds City Region had decreased by a quarter in just one year.

The paper reported that there were just 22,250 apprenticeship starts during the 2017/18 academic year – a fall of 7,970 from the previous year. It is believed the decline may be linked to the transitional effects of the introduction of Government reforms to the apprenticeship system in 2017.

Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership has now launched a new employment hub to help address current and future shortages in the region.

The free programme aims to engage more than 6,000 young people over three years, with support to get them into further learning, self-employment, employment or an apprenticeship. It will also help businesses to fulfil their recruitment needs.

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, said: “The Employment Hub will further improve career prospects for so many young people in the City Region and the businesses that support them will see the significant benefits of investing in new talent which, in turn, boosts economic growth.

“Our City Region has a working age population of 1.9 million people, making it the North’s largest and fastest-growing region. We also have the youngest population in the country and Bradford alone has more under 15s than anywhere else – a huge future talented workforce.

“With some 130,000 businesses across the region, I am confident that this service will make a significant impact in improving lives and fulfilling businesses recruitment needs.”

His comments come as the build-up continues to the Yorkshire Fastest 50, the annual run-down of the fastest-growing privately owned companies in Yorkshire.

Craig Such, Managing Director of business technology solutions provider Azzure IT, which has made the Yorkshire Fastest 50 list for the third year in a row, believes investing in future talent through apprenticeships is critical for his business.

He said: “As we work in a quite niche market, the skills required to work for a company like ours are very specialist. This means that investing in youth and training people through apprenticeships is really important.

“We have a long history of running apprenticeship qualifications at Azzure, and currently have two apprentices working in different departments within the business. We also have a full-time staff member in our team who completed their Azzure apprenticeship last year.”

Luke Sidebottom, Azzure IT Apprentice, said: “I’m really enjoying my role as a Support Infrastructure Technician Apprentice at Azzure IT. In the six months I have been on the apprenticeship, I have gained invaluable skills for my career, increased my confidence and gained experience working in a fast-paced office environment.

“I would recommend an apprenticeship to anyone looking for a first-time job and looking to gain a wide range of different skills and experiences.”

A Commercial Partner at Ward Hadaway, who advises the education and skills sector in employer/training provider relationships, said: “Where businesses find it difficult to drive growth, looking to increase the quality and future proofing of the skill base in the business through apprenticeship programmes can make a difference.

“Apprenticeships present just as good a route into a valuable career as a university degree and they must be encouraged. We now live in an age in which training achieved through apprenticeships contribute significantly to business growth strategies across the entire economy and employers need to make the most of apprenticeships.

“Businesses need to look at how they can best take advantage of the opportunity to appoint apprentices. Are there skills gaps, changing job functions perhaps as a result of the introduction of technology, or do they have employees who will become more efficient and effective if taken on through an apprenticeship programme?

“Employers may also have concerns about the contracts training providers expect to see committed to and the complexity around pricing the delivery arrangements.  Knowledge of the funding and performance rules set by the Education and Skills Agency really becomes important to securing the best from apprenticeships.”

The Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 2019 will take place at Aspire in Leeds on Friday, 22nd March. This is the ninth time that the Fastest 50 has taken place, and the event has become a firm fixture in the region’s business calendar.

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