By Daniel Hunter

This week marks National Apprenticeship Week. The Week is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the economy as a whole.

Organised by the National Apprenticeship Service, the week looks set to be the biggest and best yet, with hundreds of events and activities planned across England, showcasing the talents, skills and commitment of apprentices to employers, teachers, parents, the general public and the media.

What is still too little appreciated is that apprenticeships are an increasingly important way in to the professional sector. The Financial Skills Partnership, whose role is to support employers in the finance, accounting and financial services sector in meeting their skills needs, has helped develop no less than six apprenticeship frameworks currently being used, with over 7,000 apprenticeships starting in 2011/2012 across the sector, spanning all disciplines from accounting, payroll, book-keeping and professional services to providing financial services, financial advice and mortgage advice.

“Our country’s brightest and most ambitious are now considering quality vocational training as an excellent alternative point of entry to a rewarding career," Liz Field, CEO of the Financial Skills Partnership, said.

"Their appetite should be matched by an established infrastructure whereby they can gain access to their chosen professions through apprenticeships that reflect the needs of the industry.”

FSP also received support from the Higher Apprenticeship Fund to help develop employer-led higher apprenticeship frameworks in partnership with large employers. It has helped develop a number of major programmes which have already commenced offering a variety of apprenticeships up to Level 4, and one to Level 7, on par with academic study.

“Apprenticeships are now available in many more formats that cater to a greater number of job roles in industry sectors," Field added.

"The quality of the training contained within the apprenticeship frameworks provide the next generation of workers with what they need to hit the ground running. Getting apprentices’ job ready and tooled up with relevant skills that will boost their respective workforces should be the priority.

“The only way for successful and effective apprenticeships to become commonplace throughout the UK is through the engagement of employers. We have already started to see demand from our sector and as a result more employers offering apprenticeships that provide high quality and relevant training, covering both technical expertise and skills.”

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