New apprentice scheme opens up fresh talent pool
Business prosperity depends on a number of different factors.
Some of them are outside the direct control of individual companies and that's why the Chamber of Commerce regularly makes the case on behalf of our members for improvements in things such as transport provision and modern office space in the centre of the city.
However, there are other elements which businesses can control and surely number one is the level of skills among the workforce.
Travel around the country and listen to what other towns and cities are saying about their approach to economic development.
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Virtually all of them are talking the same language, pinning their hopes for the future on success in what I call brain-powered industries – with the high technology and creative sectors most often highlighted.
But there is another theme which pops up time and again, and that's a call to improve the level of skills in every area of business.
The Chamber and the Initiative in B&NES were among the first to argue for efforts to persuade more of the young people who graduate from our two fine universities to stay to live and work in the district after completing their studies. Happily that's now well established and widely supported.
What we should now do is turn our attention elsewhere to another vital element – the young people who opt not to go to university but instead choose to get straight into the world of work via apprenticeships.
These days there is an apprentice option for every business, and the recently introduced higher level apprenticeships offers a chance to make a career in professional services, previously dominated by graduates.
This is really great news for employers because it opens up a fresh pool of talent, with young people coming into the business at a different level and a different stage in their development. This means the company can not only be involved in the professional training of the individuals but also have the opportunity to properly imbue them with the culture of the organisation.
In that way, they are much more likely to stay for the long term and so amply pay back the company for taking the time and trouble to train them in the first place.
We are really keen to get the message over that apprenticeships are something that every business should consider. There is ample help available from our Colleges of Further Education who can identify potential candidates and ease the administrative process, which has sometimes put people off in the past.
In fact, we are staging an event with the City of Bath College at lunchtime on Wednesday, February 6 when you'll be able to find out all about apprenticeships, and in particular the high-level version which will be attractive to professional services companies.
To find out more about our Apprenticeship event visit email@example.com .
Ian Bell, executive director of Bath Chamber of Commerce