How apprenticeships are vital for business success

11 February 2021

MD of Ellis Patents talks in the Yorkshire Post about how apprenticeships can develop talent in the region.

As Managing Director of Ellis Patents, an SME manufacturer and global distributer of cable cleats for industrial and electrical applications based in North Yorkshire, I am passionate about engineering and the development of engineering talent in the region. This is a particular challenge in our area where it can be difficult to recruit skilled staff. We have an ageing workforce and need to ensure that knowledge and skills transfer to the next generation so that they are retained within our business and sector. Apprenticeships are an excellent way to enable this to happen.


Sadly, when we look at what’s happening with apprenticeships regionally, the picture is not a positive one. With apprenticeship starts down significantly at quarter 4, compared to the same point last year, it is clear that the pandemic has hit apprenticeships hard, especially those in sectors such as hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism which have suffered the biggest economic blows during the recent year.


So, is it all doom and gloom for apprenticeships? It is true the pandemic has resulted in some businesses diverting their training budgets to keep them afloat, meaning they’ve been unable to run apprenticeships as they had intended. However, other businesses like our own, have taken the opportunity to look ahead at the forward needs of the business and have pressed ahead with recruiting apprentices as the talent to realise that future.


As it’s National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) from 8-14th February, there is no better time to celebrate why apprenticeships are a vital training pathway that can support a business to grow and be successful. In a high-performing business, you need the right blend of people with different skills and experiences. Apprenticeships are available at different levels from Level 2 up to Level 6 and 7, as well as in a variety of disciplines so provide plenty of different pathways and routes to progression. At Ellis, through apprenticeships, our people can develop their skills, progress to gain Chartered Engineer status and our business benefits from this.


Apprenticeships can be tailored to a specific job role, so we now have a core of skilled staff, whose skills are transferable across our business giving us greater flexibility and room to expand in growth areas. Almost 20% of our current workforce has come through apprenticeship pathways and some of those are now senior managers. They have provided the skills and knowledge, combined with energy and enthusiasm to enable our business to flourish. As we strive for further growth beyond the pandemic, we will continue to invest in our people including through apprenticeships.


Ellis Patents is not alone in bucking the apprenticeship trend. Anglo American is recruiting 10 engineering apprentices to add to the 14 already working on its multi-billion pound Woodsmith Project polyhalite mine in development near Whitby and on Teesside. The company will recruit 50 apprentices for long- term roles in the company, as part of its commitment to local skills development and building a local workforce.

Recently the York & North Yorkshire LEP Skills team presented their new ‘Plan for Skills 2021-2026’. They shared a vision for the region where people are empowered to achieve their potential in a greener, fairer, stronger economy. One of the 4 cornerstone ambitions of this plan is to ensure that businesses have the skills they need to grow and apprenticeships for young and older workers are key to this. Collaborating with partners across the region to celebrate NAW, the LEP is hosting an online webinar on Tuesday 9th February with the ESFA, Aviva and Ellis Patents to encourage other local businesses to consider this training route and to find out more about the new government financial incentives aimed to boost apprenticeships. In addition to this, the LEP is updating their Apprenticeship Toolkit which contains simple, practical advice and information specifically for local businesses to complement national advice that is available via .


2020 was a year like no other for many people and businesses. In the months and years to come, we believe that apprenticeships have a vital role to play in strengthening the economy and we’re looking forward to raising the profile of apprenticeships during National Apprenticeship Week 2021. It will be fantastic to hear how apprentices region-wide are making a positive difference to businesses and our economy. We invite any businesses interested in apprenticeships to come and talk to us, to find out how investing in apprentices is a valuable investment in the successful future of a business.

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