How vocational training can transform your business

8 mins read time

With University costs rising, more and more learners are considering the alternatives. And with an increasing range of apprenticeship programmes available, vocational qualifications present the perfect solution for both learners and businesses.

Lifetime’s Business Development Director, Marie Vickery, looks at how vocational training can transform your business. She explains why this type of training provides the ideal solution for filling skills gaps and improving your employee return on investment.

What is vocational training?

Vocational training builds on the skills and knowledge that are required for a particular job function or trade. An apprenticeship is the vocational qualification a business can offer learners that enables them to train for a specific job role, while they also get paid in work. It allows learners of all ages to improve their skills and education while working in a particular field or industry.

Skills gaps in the workplace

Industries that are struggling to fill certain skills gaps may be battling against common misconceptions around vocational training and apprenticeships.

Take, for example, the Health and Social Care industry. Apprentices can be hired for essential roles in a multitude of different settings and medical pathways, but many employers also do not realise apprenticeships can be used for existing team members to enhance internal training programmes and support succession planning. Discover more about how apprenticeships are being used to combat capacity challenges in health and social care.

Vocational education and training misconceptions

Many school leavers may feel pressured to go to university or straight into employment. But they might not be aware of the benefits of vocational training. And when it comes to businesses, some wrongly think that apprenticeship schemes are too expensive or resource-heavy to implement. Employers might also be under the misconception that apprentices will be inexperienced and uncommitted to their jobs.

At Lifetime, we’ve supported hundreds of national employers by successfully introducing vocational training programmes to their businesses. Below, I’ll break down these misconceptions and explain how apprenticeships can benefit businesses and are the future of the UK job market.

woman in office

What are the benefits of vocational apprenticeships?

There are many benefits of vocational training and apprenticeships. In recent years, the programme structure and content has become increasingly sophisticated.

  • Reducing skills gaps - Vocational schemes are an excellent way to create a skilled, productive and invested workforce. They also allow you to target and fill specific areas of technical expertise within your organisation
  • Standardised quality content - Content offered by apprenticeship schemes is well-thought-out, structured and organised, ensuring learners and employers benefit in a practical way that leads to advantages for both. All apprenticeship standards are employer-led, meaning real companies have had input into forming the course content
  • Focused employees - By investing in apprenticeships, employers will benefit from productive and engaged employees.
  • Building confidence in learners - Apprenticeships will help learners become more confident, motivated and of course, more qualified.

Tackling apprenticeship myths and misinformation

Despite the numerous benefits, there are still many myths about apprenticeships that put barriers up around apprenticeship schemes for both employers and learners.

Employers may find it hard to recruit apprentices for certain industries, or struggle to sell the idea of an apprenticeship scheme to internal stakeholders. The implementation of a scheme may seem costly and resource heavy.

In my experience, many key stakeholders within big businesses believe the myth that apprenticeships are too expensive to be implemented. In fact, because the levy fund can often cover most costs, vocational training schemes are worth it many times over, due to the skilled, productive and invested workforce that is created as a result.

Many employers and learners believe that apprenticeships are not ‘right for them’. There is still the misconception that vocational training is only relevant for the building and construction trade.

Employers are also sometimes under the assumption that apprenticeships are likely to attract unskilled and inexperienced workers, who may become bored and leave, negatively impacting retention rates.

Increased productivity, motivation and confidence

In fact, studies have shown that apprentices are likely to be very productive in their roles, with an improvement in self-confidence and motivation contributing to an increased ROI for the business. Vocational training programmes offer strong career progression and salary projection, which is an appealing prospect for otherwise disengaged learners.

Though some employers may see traditional academic achievements as more reputable, the content that is offered on apprenticeship programmes is sophisticated, academic and focused on building real-life competencies that make candidates incredibly employable. They’re also available up to level 7 (master level equivalent) meaning this type of vocational training can be useful for upskilling existing employees too.

Since the introduction of the new apprenticeship standards in 2017, vocational apprenticeships are more structured, in-depth and require real commitment throughout the study and work elements.

There is a real focus on encouraging learners to take ownership of their own learning, with robust training and thorough assessments, ensuring learners and employers can get the most out of each programme.

Why is vocational education important?

The economic benefits of vocational education cannot be understated. A focus on work-based training, instead of ‘buying’ skills in, is a wise business move. It not only reduces the skills gap but encourages business stability and growth.

By utilising the apprenticeship levy pot available to businesses over a certain size (and indirectly to small and medium-sized businesses) employers can bridge this skills gap and offer a fast way into work that isn’t based on study alone.

The importance of vocational training for career development is also difficult to refute. Upskilling existing staff is an often-overlooked way to utilise a ready-made pool of talent, who already have industry insight and company knowledge. Apprenticeships offer the perfect way to increase professional development and fast-track career progression too.

There are many debates around academic versus vocational education, too. But there’s no reason why the two cannot work together. Businesses, schools and universities could work more closely to link education with work and promote careers that don’t rely solely on a degree to succeed.

A vocational education is important for young people because it can be extremely effective at bridging the gap between school and the workplace, which more traditional academic paths may fail to do.

The scope of vocational education with Lifetime

Lifetime is a trusted name across many industries. As an experienced training provider, we are always focused on delivering an outstanding service for our employer partners and learners.

Working with some of the best brands across the hospitality, fitness, health and social care, childcare and teaching, business and management, clinical health and retail sectors ensures we deliver interesting, practical and successful apprenticeship programmes. We focus on implementing exactly what your business needs to plug skill gaps and maintain or kickstart growth.

Our business and management apprenticeship programmes allow employers to bridge the gap in core professional skills such as time management and communication, key transferable skills for learners too.

To ensure businesses can remain agile and adaptable in these times, our higher apprenticeship programmes provide businesses with the perfect training structure to upskill staff into managerial and leadership positions.

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Lifetime has supported hundreds of businesses in introducing vocational apprenticeship schemes, across many diverse sectors. Working with you, we can create the best programmes for you and your learners.

Discover how our expert teams can help you leverage apprenticeships to develop your people strategy and create business impact.

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