By Ben Walker Run your business Why apprenticeships must be harnessed for the future 2 Jan 2015 As our infographic shows, apprenticeships are a force to be reckoned with and are playing a vital role in stimulating the jobs market. With far higher uptake rates than a decade ago, they are preparing the UK for the labour needs it will have in the years up to 2020. With the government set to introduce a new funding model that will back employers directly for taking on apprentices, AAT has called for all those involved in UK skills to take stock of five recommendations: 1. As only 31% of young people say that teachers have discussed apprenticeships with them, it’s clear that school pupils must be enabled to make informed choices about all their available opportunities. 2. Funding policy should be flexible enough to reflect changing economic needs. As the system moves towards employer contributions, it should differentiate between apprenticeship types and offer greater incentives for places that address identified skills gaps. ‘One size fits all’ no longer fits. 3. Regional disparities in apprenticeship numbers should be addressed through greater focus on the local ownership of skills education and funding. Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) have a major role to play, but employer contributions could also vary according to location and/or type of apprenticeship. 4. Better data is required below regional level to allow skills shortages and certain types of unemployment to be targeted. Government departments and agencies should rethink how they record data so they can better map local skills gaps. 5. The government should consult further with employers and providers about the details of its new funding mechanism before going ahead, to make sure opportunities are not missed. Also, the impact of changes should be monitored after introduction. In the words of AAT chief executive Mark Farrar: There has been a huge increase in the number of apprentices in recent years, which has helped businesses and transformed lives. Now we can look to ensure that all areas of the country benefit fully, with the apprenticeships for the future that the UK needs to drive growth.” Read the full report here: Apprenticeships for the Future Ben Walker is the former editor of Accounting Technician.