June 1st, 2012
Management over money
The way to get more companies to take on apprentices is to provide management support – not money in the form of government subsidies, reveals a new study by Competenz the Industry Training Organisation (ITO) for the Baking, Food & Beverage Manufacturing and Engineering industries.
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A concerning 75% of companies in the metal, engineering and baking sectors do not hire apprentices. This leaves just 25% of companies in these sectors with the job of educating newcomers to their trade and imparting skills to the next generation
And yet the benefits of up-skilling the workforce are significant both for industry as a whole and individual companies. “Skills convert immediately into productivity increases
and profitable improvement,” says John Blakey, Competenz CEO
So why are 75% of companies not hiring apprentices? The study found that two thirds of companies in these sectors do not currently hire a qualified tradesperson – and cannot therefore hire an apprentice either.
“You can’t take on an apprentice if you haven’t got the qualification yourself,” says John Blakey. “Otherwise the transfer of skills can’t effectively take place. It’s a situation that perpetuates the low wage, low skilled economy.”
Yet while many companies are simply unable to hire an apprentice due to not hiring a qualified tradesperson, 27% of these non-apprentice hiring companies are in fact in a position to take on an apprentice – something that needs to happen if we are to meet the expectation of school leavers for employment, and close the skills shortage gap
It is management support that will convert non-apprentice hiring companies, that hire a tradesperson, into apprentice hiring companies – by providing a pool of suitable candidates to recruit from, more help with supervising, and an online system to track apprentices in real time. Small businesses in New Zealand are weak in people management skills and are less likely to hire an apprentice – they have the most to gain from a management intervention.
Subsidies are easy - give a company money and hope they deliver – but they only make a small difference in converting a non-apprentice hiring company into an apprentice hiring company.
Government subsidies such as Job Ops with Training and Skills for Growth that come with conditions can be deterrents for many businesses. The requirement to hire someone off an unemployment benefit or the DPB, with low or no skills, is just taking on one issue too many for most companies.
The message is clear. Without interventions, the number entering apprenticeships is likely to remain static, a dedicated few training for the needs of the whole nation. But with the right supports, more companies would be likely to take on an apprentice, enriching their own companies and building a more highly skilled, highly productive environment sector-wide.
For more information contact Competenz on 0800 526 1800.