7th February 2023

NAW 2023 – How apprenticeships provide #SkillsForLife

Apprenticeship National Apprenticeship Week

As part of a series of blogs for National Apprenticeship Week, Van Elle’s Talent Advisor, Anne-Marie Cutler tells us why she believes apprenticeships provide skills for life and are the answer to the UK skills shortage.

Skills shortage in our industry

There’s often discussion at education events, recruitment events and in the media about whether apprenticeships are the answer to the UK skills shortage, and if they’re able to give people skills for life.

Many people believe that they’re too limited to one occupation, while we believe they’re the key to addressing the skills shortage in our industry.

An ageing workforce is one of the main reasons for the skills shortage, specifically in our industry. As construction workers reach retirement age, fewer people are entering the industry to replace them.

One of the solutions to the skills shortage is making a career in the industry seem more desirable and changing the current perceptions of the industry and apprenticeships.

While the general perception of the industry has changed over the years, there are still a lot of common misconceptions that are simply untrue.

Such as construction is only for men, it’s dangerous, consists only of building houses, is unskilled labour, there is an age limit to apprenticeships and if you chose to become an apprentice, you won’t become as successful as going down the traditional university route.

Additionally, people aren’t always aware of the higher-level apprenticeships available, which are equivalent to a foundation degree, bachelor’s and masters.  Or that there is no apprenticeship age limit. There are many ways apprenticeships can not only benefit older people but can also be beneficial for upskilling to restarting in a new field.

Highlighting the benefits

Together with others in our industry, we must highlight the variety of roles within the sector and the value and benefits they provide, including the opportunities for career growth, the variety of work, the potential to travel and gaining valuable skills for life.

While of course, it’s important to develop industry-specific skills, what’s just as critical to success are workplace core skills. They are key skills that we all need to have and which apprenticeships can help to provide.

Providing skills for life

At Van Elle, our apprentices work with experienced and supportive colleagues, which helps them to build those crucial workplace core skills.

Learning the core skills in real-life work situations goes above and beyond what can be taught in the classroom. Our apprentices constantly learn new skills on the job and have the opportunity to apply their learning every day.

We help our apprentices build and develop a toolkit of workplace core skills, including: 

  • Working collaboratively
  • Communicating effectively, with people across all levels of seniority, members of the public and clients
  • Organisation and how to prioritise workload 
  • Timekeeping and managing workloads to ensure all-important deadlines are met
  • Setting goals, providing, and receiving feedback
  • Learning the behaviours, processes, and procedures of the business
  • Understanding frequently used software
  • Commercial awareness and managing finances
  • Problem-solving by defining issues, brainstorming alternative solutions, sharing thoughts, and then making decisions.

These skills are essential to building a successful career and are also important for life. By developing these skills, our apprentices improve their chances of thriving in their careers.

Apprenticeships are a way of futureproofing the UK workforce, particularly in our sector where there is a skills shortage.

Although there is still a long way to go, it is pleasing to see that progress is being made, and that we’re part of the journey helping to support that, by providing opportunities for the next generation and building those all-important skills for life.

Visit the NAW website here or for more information about a career at Van Elle, visit our careers page.