11th March 2020
Apprenticeships have vital role to play for local firms
Talent attraction and retention has long been an issue facing businesses in the North Highlands, and it is one which has come into focus in recent weeks due to the UK Government’s proposed new points-based system for immigration. Whatever your position on immigration policy, there is no denying that the debate around the issue has brought to light the real difficulties faced by businesses across the region in attracting and retaining staff.
This is an issue that the Chamber is actively working to address, both immediately through projects like Recruit North Highlands – which aims to attract skilled workers through the region – and in the longer term through the range of projects run through the Chamber-led Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) North Highlands initiative.
A key focus for the Chamber’s DYW team is on helping both young people and employers to take advantage of the full range of opportunities offered by the apprenticeship family. With the theme of last week’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week being “Talent Without Limits”, the team has been hard at work recently to promote the diverse range of apprenticeships available.
Starting with Foundation Apprenticeships, these offer a great opportunity for employers to shape the next generation and get early access to future talent. Providing senior school pupils with real life experience and helping them achieve industry-recognised qualifications is a fantastic way for businesses in the North Highlands to ensure that they will have access to the skills they need in future.
At the next level, Modern Apprenticeships can be an ideal way for employers to bring on new staff or upskill existing employees to help meet their skills gaps. With over 80 MA frameworks covering everything from accounting to youth work, Modern Apprenticeships can help employers of all types across the North Highlands build a sustainable and diverse workforce to help them meet future challenges and opportunities.
Finally, Graduate Apprenticeships offer an opportunity for employers with specific skills needs to develop and retain skilled employees while helping them gain a high level of academic and industry accreditation. With the North Highlands set to see developments in fast-developing areas such as aerospace and renewables over the coming years, a Graduate Apprenticeship could offer a unique opportunity for local employers to develop the skills they need to benefit from these opportunities.
Apprenticeships are certainly not the whole solution, but they have a major role to play in developing a sustainable and diverse workforce in remote and rural areas like the North Highlands. Even for employers not in a position to take on apprentices, engaging with young people more generally can bring a range of benefits and help to give a fresh perspective to the issues they face.
In addition to its work with the DYW initiative, the Chamber also manages the Caithness Business Fund, which can offer grants of up to £5,000 to help employers in Caithness and North Sutherland who are looking to take on an apprentice, so get in touch today to find out more about how we can help!