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Manufacturing apprentices getting the nod over graduates

Research shows that manufacturers are now clearly prioritising apprenticeships over graduate recruitment - a shift reflected by BAE System’s plan to recruit 700 apprentices this year.

A survey conducted by EEF shows that manufacturers are looking to apprenticeships to ensure they have the specialist skills they will need in the future.


Almost three-quarters of the companies surveyed are planning to recruit apprentices, up from two thirds in 2014. In contrast, the number planning to recruit graduates has fallen by half to just 34 per cent.


The need to bring fresh young talent into manufacturing is highlighted by the fact that four-fifths of companies say the average age of their workforce is 41 or older, with a significant number of employees expected to retire within the next decade.


Verity Davidge, head of education and skills policy at EEF, said:


“With a lack of technical skills continuing to drive recruitment problems, apprenticeships are firmly in the spotlight to fix this challenge. Offering the perfect mix of technical knowledge, skills and training, apprenticeship programmes are ticking all the right boxes for manufacturers. As a result, we are seeing these numbers take off, while graduate programmes are on a downward descent.”


Last month, BAE Systems announced a plan to recruit nearly 700 apprentices across its UK business during 2019 - a 30 per cent increase on 2018.


Half of the company’s existing UK apprentices work at its air facilities in Samlesbury and Warton in Lancashire.


Charles Woodburyn, chief executive at BAE Systems, said:


“We are proud to be one of the UK’s largest employers of apprentices. With technology becoming ever more advanced and integrated in the workplace, it is crucial that we train the next generation of engineers and business leaders to develop the necessary skills which will be needed to drive innovation, solve complex challenges and build on our position as one of the UK’s most innovative and productive companies.”


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