An analysis of the financial worth of apprenticeships, by Barclays bank, has revealed that if employers increased this type of training they could boost the British economy by £4.4bn a year.
The bank said this gain would be possible if employers upped the proportion of apprentices in their workforces to 2.2 per cent, the same levels as currently found within admin and support services.
Government data shows that admin and support services have three times as many apprentices as manufacturing and twice the national average of people training on the job.
Barclays uncovered the financial potential of apprentices by mapping data from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills against productivity estimates from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).
CEBR data shows that every apprentice who completes their placement adds £214 a week to the economy. Barclays said that the £4.4bn productivity boost would be possible if employers created 437,787 apprenticeships to bring the levels of apprentices in their organisation up to 2.2 per cent of the workforce.
The research said that employers in health and social work sectors would need to take on 38,000 more apprentices, education 13,500, and 20,000 positions would need to be created in the professional, scientific and technical activities sectors including legal practices and business consultancy.
Even industries known for offering apprenticeships such as engineering and manufacturing would need to add 20,000 to reach 2.2 per cent.
Mike Thompson, head of employability programmes at Barclays Retail and Business Banking, said: “Apprenticeships are growing in profile, but we know there is potential for some industries to take on more and deliver dramatic benefit to both our economy and young people.
“We can see the results in countries such as Germany where skills deficits have been addressed and productivity boosted. It’s time we do more to help businesses overcome the barriers they face to offering apprenticeships, while at the same time encouraging more to offer opportunities for young people to learn about work, and the skills they need, at a younger age.”
He said that this was why his employer has committed to offering apprenticeships and encouraging work experience through its LifeSkills programme.
“We are now calling on business leaders across industries to look at how to pave the way for a new wave of apprenticeships,” he added.
Skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock said: “I want going to university or choosing an apprenticeship to become the new norm for young people. To make this a reality apprenticeship reforms, such as the Trailblazers project, will make the system work better for businesses and learners. Businesses will work together to design apprenticeship programmes that meet their needs, meaning young people will be given the skills and experience required for them to succeed.”