How Vocational Training can Transform your Business

With University costs rising, more and more learners are considering the alternatives. With a wide range of apprenticeship programmes available, vocational qualifications present the perfect solution for both learners and businesses.

Lifetime Training’s Business Development Director Marie Vickery looks at how vocational training can transform your business. She explains why this type of training provides the ideal solution for filling skills gaps and improving your employee return on investment.

What is vocational training?

Vocational training is training that builds on the skills and knowledge that are required for a particular job function or trade. An apprenticeship is the vocational qualification a business can offer learners to allow them to train for a specific job role and get paid whilst in work. It allows learners of all ages to improve their skills and education whilst working in a particular field or industry.

Industries that are struggling to fill certain skills gaps may be battling against common misconceptions around vocational training and apprenticeships. Take for example the Health and Social Care industry, apprentices can be hired for essential roles in a multitude of different settings and medical pathways. Many employers also do not realise apprenticeships can be used for existing team members to enhance internal training programmes and support succession planning.
Many school leavers may feel pressured to go to university or straight into employment, and not be aware of the benefits of vocational training. And when it comes to businesses, some wrongly think that apprenticeship schemes are too expensive and resource heavy to implement. Employers might also be under the misconception that apprentices will be inexperienced and uncommitted to their jobs.

At Lifetime Training, we’ve supported hundreds of national employers to successfully introduce vocational training programmes to their businesses. I break down these misconceptions below and explain how apprenticeships can benefit businesses and are the future of the UK job market.

What are the benefits of vocational apprenticeships?

There are many benefits of vocational training and apprenticeships. In recent years, the programme structure and content has become increasingly sophisticated.

Vocational schemes are an excellent way to create a skilled, productive and invested workforce. Content offered by apprenticeship schemes is well-thought out, structured and organised to ensure learner and employers benefit in a practical way that leads to advantages for both. By investing in apprenticeships, employers will benefit from productive and engaged employees. Apprenticeships will help learners become more confident, motivated and of course more qualified.

Tackling apprenticeship myths and misinformation

Despite the numerous benefits, there are still many apprenticeship myths that put barriers up around apprenticeship schemes for both employers and learners.

Employers may find it hard to recruit apprentices for certain industries, or struggle to sell the idea of an apprenticeship scheme to internal stakeholders. The implementation of a scheme may seem costly and resource heavy.

In my experience, many key stakeholders within big businesses believe the myth that apprenticeships are too expensive to be implemented. In fact, because the levy fund can cover the majority of costs, vocational training schemes are worth it many times over, due to the skilled, productive and invested workforce that is created as a result.

Many employers and learners believe that apprenticeships are not ‘right for them’. There is still the misconception that vocational training is only relevant for the building and construction trade.

Employers are sometimes under the assumption that apprenticeships are likely to attract unskilled and inexperienced workers, who may become bored and leave, so decreasing retention rates. In fact, studies have shown that apprentices are likely to be very productive in their roles, with an improvement in self-confidence and motivation contributing to an increased ROI for the business. Vocational training programmes offering strong career progression and salary projection which is an appealing prospect for otherwise disengaged learners.

Though some employers may see traditional academic achievements as more reputable, the content that is offered on apprenticeship programmes is sophisticated, academic and focused on building real-life competencies that make candidates incredibly employable. They’re also available up to level 7 (master level equivalent) meaning this type of vocational training can be useful for upskilling existing employees too.

With the introduction of the new apprenticeship standards in 2017, vocational apprenticeships are well-structured, in-depth and require real commitment throughout the study and work elements. There is a focus on encouraging learners to take ownership of their own learning, with robust training and thorough assessments, ensuring learners and employers can get the most out of each programme.

The impact of vocational training on the workforce

Many businesses and employers in the UK are currently seeing a huge vocational skills gap, which is impacting their ability to drive forward their business performance and growth. This often starts with an inability to recruit efficiently or find the right hires.

In a study from the Open University, 91% of businesses struggled to find workers with the right skills in 2018. Nurses, computer programmers and HR officers topped the list of hard to fill vacancies as a direct result of skills shortages.

Desirable missing skills include core professional skills such as time management, problem solving, efficiency and communication as well as sector specific skills such as customer service or an aptitude in strategy. With this vocational skills gap stretching the existing talent pool, learning and development is highlighted as an increasingly important business tool across multiple sectors. This is particularly important as the 4th industrial revolution in AI and the internet of things ramps up.

With less qualified employees in the areas where skills are in demand, this qualification gap needs to be filled. Businesses could see a decrease in productivity, as well as a knock-on outlay in recruitment fees, and additional cost of temporary staffing.

In 2018, 47% of businesses said they were not as agile as they needed to be, particularly in a changeable political, economic and technological climate. This is why vocational skills are so important then and now. Management and leadership skills are especially vital for navigating change smoothly.

Why is vocational education important?

The economic benefits of a vocational education cannot be understated. A focus on work-based training instead of ‘buying’ skills in, is a wise business move. It will reduce the skills gap and encourage business stability and growth. By utilising the apprenticeship levy pot that is available to businesses over a certain size (and indirectly to small and medium sized businesses), employers can bridge this skills gap and offer a fast way into work that isn’t based on study alone.

The importance of vocational training for career development is also difficult to refute. Upskilling existing staff is an often-overlooked way to utilise a ready-made pool of talent, who have industry insight and company knowledge. Apprenticeships offer the perfect way to increase professional development and fast-track career progression too.

Job seekers and candidates themselves (according to a study) think that more companies should offer work placements or apprenticeship opportunities. There are many debates around academic versus vocational education, but there’s no reason why the two cannot work together. Businesses, schools and universities could work more closely to link education with work and to promote careers that don’t rely solely on a degree to succeed. A vocational education is important for young people because it can be extremely effective at bridging the gap between school and the workplace, that more traditional academic paths may fail to do.

The scope of vocational education with Lifetime Training

Lifetime is a trusted name across many industries. As an experienced training provider we are always focused on delivering an outstanding service for our employer partners and learners.

Working with some of the best brands across the hospitality, fitness, health and social care, childcare and teaching, business and management, clinical health and retail sectors ensures we are able to deliver interesting, practical and successful apprenticeship programmes. They focus on getting exactly what your business needs to plug skill gaps and maintain or kickstart growth.

Our business and management apprenticeship programmes allow employers to bridge the gap in core professional skills such as time management and communication, key transferable skills for learners too.

To ensure businesses can remain agile and adaptable in these times, our higher apprenticeship programmes provide businesses with the perfect training structure to upskill staff into managerial and leadership positions.

How Lifetime can help your business

The business development team at Lifetime has supported hundreds of businesses through the implementation of vocational apprenticeship schemes. We can work with you to create the best programmes for you and your learners.

Get in touch with me and our expert team today to find out how to leverage vocational training to grow your workforce and improve your business.

About Marie Vickery


Marie Vickery is a Director on the Executive Team at Lifetime Training and leads the Business Development, Marketing and Partnership Launch functions.

With thirteen years of extensive knowledge of the pre and post-levy apprenticeship landscape, Marie has supported hundreds of national companies to successfully introduce apprenticeships into their business.

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