Milton Keynes College Group says the number of apprenticeships they’re providing in the city is booming and there are some areas where they can’t find enough young people to meet demand from business.
Apprenticeship starts are already back to pre-COVID levels and more opportunities are being offered in the New Year in attempt to keep up with local needs. Newly appointed Head of Apprenticeships, Sarah Thompson says, “Construction and Engineering in particular are proving hugely popular and with the partnerships we have in place with companies like Anglian Water and Careys Construction the quality of the training provided is higher than it’s ever been – especially in groundworking, carpentry and painting and decorating.”
With many companies still working from home or battling to recover after lockdown, Sarah hadn’t expected numbers to recover to 2019 levels for some time, but with new intakes being added in January to meet demand they’re likely to surpass those numbers very soon. She says, “We’ve had to add a January cohort because we have a waiting list of people who want to get started. Hair is always recruiting, applications for engineering and accounting are through the roof and in Hospitality we have twenty-two vacancies with businesses desperate for people, particularly for Commis Chef roles. Some people have been put off because of how badly hospitality was hit during lockdown but wages are rising so fast in the sector that there are some really amazing opportunities. What’s more the people who are taking Commis Chef apprenticeships with us are coming up with some astounding results – we have a 100% distinction rate at the moment which is brilliant.”
Sarah says that the response of the hospitality industry to the shortage is not just expressed in terms of wages, with hotels and restaurants going to great lengths to improve working conditions to make careers with them more appealing. She says there’s also a big increase in interest in the kinds of digital apprenticeships available through the Group’s South Central Institute of Technology with courses like digital marketing proving particularly popular.
“People are clearly realising that an apprenticeship is a great way to start a real career,” Sarah says, “and definitely a positive alternative to A Levels and university, especially as they earn while they learn which is a big incentive.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about how to employ an apprentice or to become one should contact Sarah at Sarah.Thompson@mkcollege.ac.uk.