The research report The Value of Apprentices presents a compelling case for organisations to take on even one apprentice: every time they do they receive, on average, a bottom-line boost of more than £2,000 once wage and training costs have been factored in.
Last week Ucas revealed a 4% rise in applications and over 87,000 more girls applying than boys, which got me thinking: are most schools still failing to inform their students about the alternatives to university and why are so many more girls applying to university than ever before?
I dropped out of school at 15 with no qualifications, in much the same situation as the residents of James Turner Street on Channel 4's Benefits Street. But thanks to a plumbing apprenticeship, hard work and an old box of tools I bought at an auction, I now own London's biggest independent plumbing firm, which I built myself from the ground up.
News of an increase in British job vacancies this month came as somewhat bitter sweet to employers, training providers and government agencies, who remain united in tackling those challenges still faced by the UK economy.
The bottom line is, vocational education which is stretching, rigorous and based on employers' needs is extremely valuable. I know that. Employers know that. Let's get the message out there.
I believe that a young person's future is dictated, in large part, by their own determination and perseverance coupled with access to meaningful education, support, and experience. But this report would indicate that there is a big problem here.
President Obama recently gave the much-anticipated State of the Union address. It was encouraging to hear that we actually have similar views on education.
A degree, with its ever-elevated status, has become a means to a personal end. This elevated status, coupled with the economic concern of students, has also led to a proliferation of new degree subjects. It is now possible to study almost anything at university. And yet, many of these courses simply don't suit a degree structure, an issue many concerned with higher education seem all too happy to ignore.
With record numbers of Apprenticeship starts and recent employer surveys reporting even higher confidence in apprentices it seems that young people now have more chances, and choices, as they decide what career path to take.
Last week, UCAS applications closed and school leavers began the nervous wait for replies from their preferred universities. In fact, many will have already received offers, with applications for Oxbridge and some specialist courses closing back in October.
Apprenticeships have always played a very important part in our business. They are at the core of our recruitment process and have been for over 100 years. Quite simply, we wouldn't be the business we are without our apprentices.
Law has traditionally been seen as a career path only accessible via the conventional University route, but that is changing. In 2013 one of the most exciting and dynamic changes for our business wasn't just a merger or new senior management but a new approach to recruitment with the appointment of the first Level 4 Legal Apprentice in the UK.
Now we have said goodbye to 2013, there will be many personal New Year resolutions made as we stride forward into 2014. Those in business will be looking at how they can improve operations, set new targets, meet new goals.
The UK manufacturing sector has been described as 'indispensable' to Europe's economic future. In spite of this, there is still an underlying challenge for the industry to produce a skilled workforce.
Typically, the period between Christmas and the New Year is a time of reflection when people look back at the past year - assessing what they've achieved, what they could have done better and what they're hoping to accomplish in the New Year. From our experience, this is also a period when people start thinking about their career plans and jobs search.
This year has been another significant year in the expansion of Apprenticeships in England. With more than two million Apprenticeship starts since 2010 and higher numbers of people on Apprenticeships than ever before, 2013 has been a triumph. It is therefore worthy of some reflection...