Apprenticeships are important – here are five ways they could be better

Written by Katie Jacobs Tuesday 13 February 2024
Innovative employers, and some fresh thinking, are helping apprenticeships to offer even greater value: CMI assembled an expert panel
A Co-op sign

There is a lively debate taking place about how apprenticeships can contribute to the UK’s economic recovery – CMI’s discussion paper, Towards Flexibility and Productivity, was part of this. What’s clear is that many organisations are finding new value in apprenticeships, and see them as a way to rejuvenate their workforce at all levels. 

Co-op is one example of this trend. Since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017, the retail group now has more than 750 apprentices in its workforce. For Co-op, the value goes beyond providing opportunities to new starters and established colleagues; it’s also using the levy (payable by organisations with a payroll of over £3m) for social good.

The initiative, called “Co-op Levy Share” launched in 2021. It collects levy from other organisations and distributes it to businesses in need, enabling them to spend it on training and assessment costs of apprenticeships, with a focus on improving social mobility.

The best thing about apprenticeships is that you learn as you go: you get the knowledge and then you try it out

“We were trying to tackle under-representation. It’s widely known that certain individuals are disadvantaged in this space,” explains Co-op’s apprenticeship manager Louise Timperley. The scheme drives social value in communities and through the Co-op’s supply chain.

“Apprenticeships are a great way of learning new skills and applying them immediately,” she adds. “The best thing about them is you learn as you go: you get the knowledge and then you try it out.”  Co-op Levy Share enables this to happen among suppliers as well as the Co-op itself. 

CMI recently brought together a panel of experts, including Louise, for a “Shaping the Future of Apprenticeships” event in the build-up to National Apprenticeship Week. Here are some highlights from this important discussion. 

Want to discover five new insights into apprenticeships from CMI’s recent “Shaping the Future of Apprenticeships” event?


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