Apprentices 2015: the state of play

BITA and FLTA’s engineering apprenticeship scheme thrives despite tough economic conditions

Just over a year ago, an important joint venture by BITA (British Industrial Truck Association) and the FLTA (Fork Lift Truck Association) established the UK’s first single national fork lift truck engineering apprenticeship scheme.

It was an attempt by the two leading trade associations to recruit fresh talent and address the fork lift truck industry’s serious skills gap and persistent shortage of trained engineers.

At the time, no one knew how the new apprenticeship programme would fare, particularly in the face of slow economic growth and difficult trading conditions.

But after 12 months, both BITA and the FLTA are pleased to report that the scheme has so far exceeded all expectations.

This year the programme has received so many enquiries from interested young people that an extra course was added in March – in addition to the traditional September starting time – so it is expected that twice the number of engineering apprentices will enter the industry in 2015.

The BITA and FLTA joint apprenticeship programme is delivered by international learning and development specialists Karl Baum Associates.

One of the first challenges the organisation faced was to generate as much interest as it could in the scheme, which entailed making direct contact with an estimated 80% of all firms in the UK who operate fork lift trucks.

The programme has also received a large amount of enquiries via a new source: LinkedIn. The business-oriented social networking service is popular among both HR professionals, recruiters and young people looking for their first steps in industry.

In addition, approximately 22% of the combined Membership of both trade associations are currently participating, with many more expressing an interest.

And on top of all this, the introduction of the new apprenticeship grant for employers of 16-24 year olds (also known as “AGE 16 to 24”) entitles any firm employing a new apprentice to a special one-off grant of £1,500 per apprentice.

The last course saw 13 different companies apply for this grant, and all 13 were approved, so there is a clear incentive to employers to make use of this grant to help absorb some of the initial cost of taking on an apprentice.

And from April 2016, employers of apprentices under the age of 25 will no longer be required to pay secondary Class 1 (employer) National Insurance contributions on earnings up to the Upper Earnings Limit for those employees.

All this means there has never been a better time to employ an apprentice.

For any firm interested in taking on a new apprentice or simply exploring their options, please contact Karl Baum Associates on 07803 378 290 or via email at kbatraining@btinternet.com