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Welcome to the Apprenticemakers Newsletter

Welcome to the first Apprenticemakers newsletter of 2016! The coldest month is almost over and there’s much to celebrate in the world of apprenticeships too. As well as the fantastic National Apprenticeship Awards, which took place on 26th January, SME apprentice employers from across the UK also gained recognition at a special Downing Street event hosted by the Prime Minister. One thing that shone through on both occasions is the determination and innovation small businesses bring to creating apprenticeships that work for them, a fact that’s echoed in our case studies this month. Read on for all this and more. 

MGB Engineering fills its own skills gap 
When a threatening industry-wide skills gap loomed, railway signal design company MGB Engineering showed real commitment by opening a dedicated Apprenticeship Academy. We caught up with Training Academy Manager Andy Jones for the full story. Read more.
A barrel of laughs

For Alastair Simms of White Rose Cooperage, finding the right apprentice meant appearing not once but twice on TV to appeal for candidates. However, the long search paid off and he eventually recruited an enthusiastic new apprentice to help him meet growing demand for real ale casks and barrels. Read more.

Food, glorious food
Great Food Nation is a government initiative that will bring together producers, politicians, chefs and food industry leaders to put excellent food and drink manufacturing at the heart of our economy, and our appetites. Part of the campaign is a target to treble the number of food and drink apprenticeships across the industry. Read more.
Could your apprentice(s) take the Brathay Apprentice Challenge? 
The Brathay Trust and the National Apprenticeship Service have once again thrown down the gauntlet for the Brathay Apprentice Challenge. This annual competition invites teams of apprentices from across the country to compete in a series of work-related challenges. The deadline for entries is Monday 15th February. If you're from a small business and would like to get involved,let us know and we'll try to connect you with other businesses you could team up with. Find out more about Brathay here.
Downing Street welcomes apprentices and their employers
Earlier this month the National Apprenticeship Awards finalists, which included SME apprentice employers and apprentices, were invited to attend an event hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron and Business Secretary Sajid Javid. As well as being a celebration of British businesses’ commitment to quality apprenticeships, the event saw the Prime Minister make a few key announcements. Find out how two attendees from SMEs enjoyed the event here.
Apprenticeship Delivery Board ready to deliver
Having announced its intention to create a dedicated Apprenticeship Delivery Board last summer, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has now shared the high-profile names who will sit on it. Read more here.
How to get involved in National Apprenticeship Week
National Apprenticeship Week is just around the corner (14th-18th March 2016) so now’s the time to start thinking about small steps your business can take to get involved. Fortunately, we’ve written a blog to give you some ideas to get started and links to useful resources. Read our blog here.
How much can an apprenticeship support your earning potential? 
It’s a question that all potential and existing apprentices would like answered. What impact can an apprenticeship have on your long term earning power? The Social Market Foundation (SMF) has recently conducted research into just this and found that some higher level apprenticeships come with an attractive 16% future earnings premium. You can read their full findings here.
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SME success at the National Apprenticeship Awards
Apprenticemakers joined guests at the National Apprenticeship Awards this week to celebrate the fantastic success achieved by employers and their apprentices in 2015. We'd like to offer a huge congratulations to everyone involved. It was great to see SME employers celebrated alongside large businesses at the event. Read our quick guide on the SMEs and SME apprentices that won awards and were highly commended at the Grosvenor House ceremony, and a 'hot off the press' quote from winners of the Small Employer of the Year, Adary Joiners.
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This month, as well as supporting the Apprenticemakers community activities, we’ve been fine-tuning our Apprenticeship Champion Training which we piloted in December and adapting it to support new communities of Apprentice Ambassadors and Business Support professionals. We’re also supporting SMEs with their mentoring skills by adding the Mentor Training for SME employers to our suite of courses. We’re delighted to be launching the courses in March. To find out more about the workshops, training programmes and events available from Apprenticemakers please go here.
Many new employers joined the Apprenticemakers community this month to connect with fellow employers, share their knowledge, and learn from others to support their own apprenticeship programmes. If you haven’t logged in for a while, why not revisit to browse the large cross section of employers, across all sectors, representing businesses large and small, from the length and breadth of the country. To give you a flavour of the businesses signed up, here’s a short description of just some of the new joiners this month:

  • A small to medium sized contact centre in Bristol with six apprentices currently which is looking to expand its apprenticeships programme in 2016.
  • An engineering business in Kent which employs Advanced Apprentices that have been the backbone of their succession policy for over 30 years.
  • A small construction and interiors business in Cheshire which has just recruited its first apprentice in Marketing, Social Media and Business Admin.
  • A small social media and internet consultancy business in the South East that embarked on the apprentice journey two years ago. They say it has helped them implement a training regime which has benefited the whole company.
  • A creative and digital media business in London that describes their apprentices as vital to their business saying: “we wouldn't be what we are without them”.
  • A local council in Norfolk that has always recruited apprentices and aims to enhance the experience for both the apprentices and the organisation going forward.
  • A large construction services company in Manchester which has a history of recruiting apprentices and has recently moved into recruiting Higher Apprentices.

You can also join groups on Apprenticemakers to connect with other businesses interested in apprenticeships in your region and sector, there are also a number of new groups that have been set up for Apprenticeship Ambassadors this month to help them share information and events. If you’re interested in managing a group for your sector or region, or have an idea for a new group that should be set up, let us know.

Also, don't forget to connect with us on TwitterFacebook and Linkedin for updates throughout the month. is a national peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing hub for businesses interested in apprenticeships. It is run by the Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative (SFEDI) and part funded by the National Apprenticeship Service. Apprenticemakers is free for all businesses to join, whether they’d like to learn about apprenticeships as a budding employer, or champion apprenticeships as an existing employer or business professional. 
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