East of England employers turn to school leaver apprenticeships to attract diverse talent

East of England employers turn to school leaver apprenticeships to attract diverse talent

Grant Thornton UK LLP has unveiled new research for National Apprenticeship Week (6-12 February), which shows that employers in the East of England are increasingly looking to apprenticeships to attract diverse, talented young people to their business.     

All but one of the business leaders in the East of England who responded to Grant Thornton’s latest Business Outlook Tracker* survey said that they currently hire young people who have completed their A-Levels (or equivalent exams) into apprenticeship roles.  

Over three quarters (77%) of respondents said that they hire more school leavers in their business now than before the pandemic and 73% agree that hiring school leavers is as important to their business as hiring university graduates.    

According to ONS data collected in February 2022, more than 9 in 10 (91%) university students in England were worried about the cost of living. Half (50%) felt they had financial difficulties and more than three-quarters (77%) of students were concerned that the rising cost of living may affect how well they do in their studies. For young people, these increasing financial burdens from self-funded higher education could explain the rising demand for paid apprenticeships.    

East of England employers also see additional strategic benefits, with 73% of regional respondents to Grant Thornton’s survey agreeing that school leaver apprenticeships increase opportunity for people from lower socio-economic backgrounds within their business and 71% agreeing that school leavers perform just as well as graduates.   

James Brown, Partner and Practice Leader in the East of England at Grant Thornton UK LLP, said: “Employers in the East of England are discovering the benefits of using apprenticeships as a development tool. These employers are strategically using apprenticeships to address issues such as improving diversity in the workforce, achieving sustainable recruitment, and replacing traditional graduate programs with highly desirable qualifications.  

“Apprenticeships offer flexibility and the ability to tailor courses for specific development needs, making them particularly valuable to employers. These programs provide opportunities for training in high priority areas such as digital skills, finance, data analysis, and management, bringing new skills into the business that significantly benefit the organisation.  

“At Grant Thornton, we are passionate advocates of apprenticeships as a valuable and effective route for young people to become trusted business and financial advisers. Apprenticeships promote social mobility in our communities and ensure a diverse and highly skilled talent pipeline for our firm, enabling us to provide top-quality service with teams that reflect the clients we serve.”  

Grant Thornton UK LLP recruits hundreds of school leavers every year. In 2022, 19 graduates and school leavers joined the firm’s Cambridge, Chelmsford, Northampton and Leicester offices across a range of departments, including audit and tax. Nationally, Grant Thornton has more than doubled the number of trainees joining its school leaver apprenticeship programme, achieving a record 193 new recruits, up from 90 in 2021. 

Talent and skills investment is vital to securing the loyalty of a company’s workforce and attract in-demand talent. Apprenticeships deliver the skills both organisations and employees need to achieve their goals. 

Alongside Grant Thornton’s success in recruiting hundreds of apprentices every year, they have also supported over 2,000 organisations nation-wide in optimising the apprenticeship levy. This allows organisations to get the vital skills they actually need, all through high-quality development programmes. Employers can get help to realise opportunities through several development programmes in partnership with leading training providers.   

Find out more here.