In the midst of an evolving workplace, with demographic shifts and rapid technological change the order of the day, skills development has never been higher on the agenda.
I’m a big believer that apprenticeships, with their unique combination of theoretical knowledge and on-the-job training, can play a huge part in helping organisations give employees opportunities to develop the skills that both the individual and business need for the future.
Four years ago, we established the Princess Royal Training Awards (PRTAs). We wanted to honour outstanding and innovative training and skills development programmes that had a substantial impact on employees, and ultimately business performance. We receive many exceptional applications for the Awards every year from organisations who have seen the transformative power of apprenticeships– Openreach being one such example.
In order to achieve its ambitions to ramp up the build of fibre networks and recruit the right talent, Openreach is overhauling its approach to developing its people - putting practical, real-life training at its heart. On a recent visit to ‘Openstreet’ (a replica of a street for apprentices to apply what they learn) in Bradford, I saw first-hand how a creative and goal-oriented approach to training is having a positive impact on its flagship trainee engineer programme.
If there’s one piece of guidance I could give anyone about developing an apprenticeship programme – or any type of work-based training – it would be to focus on the impact it will have. Whether that’s on the bottom line, increasing productivity, supporting talent management, or improving employee retention, you need to have an aim and a means of measuring its success.
There’s also never been a better time for businesses to reap the rewards of apprenticeships as the apprenticeship levy means that all businesses with a paybill of over £3m will already be paying into the system. If employers aren’t already making the most of their apprenticeship levy then now is the time to do so.
There are more ways to develop staff than ever before, and learning has become a real melting pot of innovation. I’d urge anyone who has seen measurable results from their training to their business to enter the PRTAs.