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Apprentices are the employees of the future

by Director of Business and Commercial Partnerships Simon Arnold

An apprentice is your employee of the future. There are many business leaders across the city who will have started their careers as an apprentice. They are often young people who join a business full of enthusiasm, ideas and will remain loyal employees.

Anyone of any age, background and gender can be an apprentice.  As well as new staff those currently working in industry can become an apprentice with their employer.

An apprenticeship is an excellent and cost-effective way to upskill your existing staff and bring innovation into a business they can last from one year upwards and are offered from Level 2 to degree-level.

Doing the Covid-19 pandemic, a number of employers have faced a number of challenges. Responding to business needs and supporting those training on an apprenticeship programme has been difficult, however by working in partnership with our employers, we have used technology and innovation to ensure minimal disruption.

It has been inspiring to see how employers and apprentices alike have responded in such difficult times.

City of Bristol College works with more than 500 employers in the city who employ an apprentice. These employers have worked so hard to keep the apprentice in work and remain in a position where they can continue with their training – but this hasn’t always been possible.

We, like others, saw a decline in business in some areas of our offering, which was to be expected.

However, with the new government incentive of £4,000 to employ an apprentice our recruitment has never been stronger.

The service industry was one of the hardest hit with many being furloughed. However, it has also been the fastest to spring back and we are inundated with the sector needing more staff and wanting to support people in returning to work and training.

The hospitality sector was one of the most affected and we have dozens of employers of all sizes asking if we have keen potential apprentices who can join them at this exciting time as they re-open for business!

At City of Bristol College, we work with thousands of people each year who, at the end of their studies, are looking for an apprenticeship. We know their ability, what their future ambitions are and what type of company they would thrive in, and that is why many employers work with us.

They want to know their apprentice is keen, able and has the right attitude. We also have the South West Apprenticeship Company (SWAC) under our wing who take on much of the administrative work, making it even easier for the employer.

Construction, Health and Social Care and Creative and Digital are all booming; there is a growth in jobs in these sectors and the College’s reputation in these areas is strong. Our new £9m Advanced Construction Skills Centre demonstrates our commitment to continually developing the future workforce in growing sectors.

The Centre has a range of state-of-the-art facilities which will enable more apprentices to train at the College in a range of areas, and for employers to work more freely with them. Both will benefit from the best facilities which integrate the importance of sustainable thinking into the curriculum.

But employers are busy, we appreciate that, which is why we have our subsidiary company SWAC. We are able to offer a full employment service, meaning for a small charge – one which is substantially lower than a recruitment agency – our team at SWAC can employ the apprentice on your behalf, reducing the work and the risk. This is a popular choice with employers, especially those who are new to taking on an apprentice.

We also have a team of assessors who support and monitor the learner in their role. They help guide employers and apprentices through the whole programme, make sure everyone is happy and on-track to succeed, and will intervene if necessary.

As a college we are employing more and more apprentices both as new staff and to promote existing staff into new positions. With the government incentives to support their employment to me the only question I would ask is “why wouldn’t you take on an apprentice?”

If you would like to find out more about taking on an apprentice, visit

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