Ms. Mannie was speaking at a World Bank webinar on Designing Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning Opportunities for Youth, alongside Bettina Schaller, of the Adecco Group, Paul Champion, from TranZed Apprenticeships, Timothy Scott Hall, of Intel Costa Rica, and Al Crook, of Zurich North America. All agreed that investment in skills and training cannot be underestimated.
The need for skills investment
Nine out of 10 employers say that their business is dealing with a skills shortage that affects productivity, employee satisfaction, and staff turnover. Work-based learning (WBL) is an immediate answer because, instead of relying on potential employees to gain the necessary skills elsewhere, companies can train their own employees with the skills they need.
One challenge that panelists identified is to adequately equip SMEs to train their staff. Ensuring that trainers are sufficiently conversant with emerging trends, particularly around issues such as digitization, requires attention and investment.
At the root of all WBL are apprenticeships, which improve the overall performance and competitive advantage of companies at a reduced cost. They also boost employee loyalty, diversify the workforce, and help to develop increased leadership potential. All attendees agreed that apprentices are highly productive and bring a very quick cost benefit.
Added value and the appeal of apprenticeships
In the US, where the seminar took place, high student debts are an ongoing problem. Apprenticeships demonstrate an alternative path into a career, instead of university or college, and deliver a faster route to high-paying jobs, without incurring large debts. However, for them to be a widespread success, they need to be part of an established culture.
A good example is the Swiss system, which panelists praised. There, flexibility is emphasized, so that students can switch career paths if they realise later that their future lies in a different career, and work experience is fully integrated into the school system, building strong links between academic and vocational training.