This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Find out more here


To discuss how you and your organisation can get more involved with The Work Foundation, please contact us.

Call 020 7976 3575 or email


How can apprenticeships make the workplace better?

How can apprenticeships make the workplace better?

Thursday, 24 January 2013
09:00 - 10:30
The Work Foundation, 21 Palmer Street, London, SW1H 0AD


• Elizabeth Eddy, Head of Skills in Employment, NHS Employers
• Lynne Atkin, HR Director, Barclays UK Retail and Business Bank
• Peter Cheese, Chief Executive, CIPD
• Iain Murray, Senior Policy Officer, Director, Unionlearn
• Richard Marsh, Employer Development and Engagement, The National Apprenticeship Service 
• Ian Brinkley, Director, The Work Foundation (Chair)

Details of the seminar:

In collaboration with the CIPD and Unionlearn we hosted an event which examined how apprenticeships can make the workplace better.

As the 2012 Richard Review made clear, everyone likes apprenticeships. They are good for young people and good for the economy. They support young people’s transitions from school to work and help provide the skills the economy needs now and in the future.

Apprenticeships are also good for employers. Research has shown that apprentices tend to be highly effective and loyal members of staff. However, despite the seemingly strong business case for taking on apprentices, relatively few UK employers do so. In Germany, by contrast, almost all employers take on apprentices. The question this event sought to answer, therefore, is: if the business case for hiring apprentices is so strong, why don’t more UK employers do so?

The event gathered important figures connected to apprenticeships to discuss the question.

Richard Marsh said that 600,000 people will start an apprenticeship in the UK over the next year and that NAS’s current focus is on improving the quality of apprenticeships. This had been a complaint among employers in the past.

Iain Murray argued that a long-term effort was required to change the culture in the UK such that taking on apprenticeships becomes the ‘done thing’ – as it is in other countries. He said the UK had ‘lost the habit’ of employing 16 year-olds.

Lynne Atkin described the apprenticeship programme Barclays launched last year (which will end up hiring 1,000 apprentices), and highlighted the positive impact the programme has had on her company.

Elizabeth Eddy thought that ‘myth busting’ was an important part of the answer, because many managers in the NHS (a very large employer) believed falsely they could not hire apprentices because of their young age. 

Peter Cheese framed the apprenticeships question within the wider issue of the ‘skills gap’ problem faced by parts of the UK economy. He argued that the UK’s industrial and education strategies need to be better connected.

Questions followed the presentations, and included a discussion on the potential use of procurement to encourage employers to take on apprentices, on the importance of a careers service in schools to present apprenticeships as an option to school children, and on the need to engage small and medium sized businesses in the apprenticeship programme.

To find out more information about this event, please email Alice Holland ( or phone 0207 976 3513.


Back to forthcoming events