Apprentices are the “lifeblood of the industry” and crucial for success

How to avoid the widening skills gap

Right now, one in five employers are hiring more apprentices to help them through tough times. The reason for this is simple: apprenticeships are good for business.

Apprentices are a much more cost-effective way of building a skilled and effective workforce than appointing fully trained engineers from an ever dwindling pool of experienced engineers, particularly on the higher wages demanded by experienced workers.

Up to 60% of the industry’s  experienced, specialist mechanics are due to retire by 2029, and with at least 200 qualified engineers needed every year just to maintain current service levels, a fresh infusion of new blood is critical to success.

Why hire an apprentice? 

The facts about apprenticeships speak for themselves:

  • Over 80% of employers say apprentices make their workplace more productive.
  • Two-thirds say apprentices make them more competitive in their industry.

Paul Nichol, Managing Director of United Forktrucks: “Our apprentices are an absolute godsend. We invest the time in training them up, and we get a committed, talented young engineer at the end of it – which is so important to us as we continue to expand in the future.”

Geoff Martin, Chairman of the FLTA, agrees: “There’s nothing quite like a home-grown apprentice engineer. They are the lifeblood of our industry.”

A staggering 92% of employers believe that apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce. Apprentices tend to be more loyal, and remain at their company longer than non-apprentices.

A recent study by the University of Warwick found that the costs of apprenticeship training are recouped relatively quickly, and where the investment is nurtured, the returns to that business are significant.

Hiring an apprentice could not be easier. With more than 20% of young people aged 16-24 unemployed and the average 15-19 year old in Britain spending 2.5 years out of work, young people are crying out for opportunities like these.

The basics – how do apprenticeships work?

Apprenticeships are on-the-job training leading to nationally recognised VCQ qualifications, developed by the industry itself.

During their apprenticeships, trainees must receive a wage (at least the National Minimum Wage, which for apprentices is £2.65 per hour).

The cost of the actual training is subsidised, in full or in part, by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).

The amount of this subsidy depends on the age of the apprentice. If they are 16-18 years of age the NAS will pay for 100% of the training; if aged 19-24 this drops to 50%.

So employers who take on a 16-18-year-old apprentice will only pay their salary: the Government will fund all of their training.

In order for fork lift companies to place their new apprentices on the right course, employers are advised to check the relevant Ofsted report for their chosen college by visiting the Ofsted website. All that’s required is to enter the college’s postcode in the address section.

For example, the Ofsted report for the FLTA-recommended course, based at North Warwickshire & Hinckley College, rated the college as “outstanding” for how well it works in partnership with employers. The report states: “The college engages successfully with employers to promote apprenticeships and employers appreciate the good quality training which the college provides.”

The FLTA’s training is delivered, managed and approved by the FLTA, Retail Motor Industry Training (Remit) and the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).

The apprenticeship is available throughout England, Wales and Scotland. The course lasts three years and leads to the nationally-recognised IMI Modern Apprenticeship in Maintenance and Repair (Lift Truck) at Advanced Level (level 3 equivalent) qualification (although some apprentices can progress to the higher level).

A recent survey showed that almost half of senior managers in UK fork lift truck companies started their careers as apprentices. They represent not just the engineers on the shop floor, but also the next generation of managers and business leaders.

If you would like more information on apprenticeships you can visit the FLTA apprenticeship micro site.

Additional information about the Fork Lift Truck Association and its activities can be found by visiting www.fork-truck.org.uk or calling 01635 277577.

Find an apprentice

As an employer, you may want to advertise for an apprentice yourself, or you may already have one in mind. Alternatively you may want Remit to help you find and assess an apprentice for you.

Either way, to register for the scheme, or simply find out more about how it will work for you, please email mail@fork-truck.org.uk or call 01635 277 577.