Training partnerships in Great Britain pay off

In 2015, the British government set itself the goal of creating three million apprenticeships by 2020 in order to realize its vision of building a knowledge-based economy. To that end, an apprenticeship levy of 0.5 per cent was introduced in 2017, levied on all companies with a payroll of more than £3million. By 2017 the levy had raised £2.7 billion to fund apprenticeships in the UK.

Most apprenticeships in the UK were still traditional in nature and involved a combination of vocational training and employment. However, the number of traditional training occupations fell by 18 percent (or 165,000) between 2017 and 2019. In the same period, the demand for the new training occupations rose from a few hundred to over 13,500. By 2021, more than half of the 164 universities in the UK were offering degree programmes.

“Young people recognize the advantages of dual training … compared to classic vocational training.”

Importantly, the UK Office of Students found in 2019 that 25 per cent of students pursuing an academic education would otherwise not have gone to university for financial reasons.

The lesson from Great Britain is clear: More and more young people are recognizing the advantages that a completed vocational training course offers in terms of status, salary and future security compared to traditional vocational training.

Outcomes from the Australian Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit in September include a commitment to create thousands of New Energy Apprenticeships and Digital Traineeships. Experience in the UK indicates a growing demand for completed apprenticeships alongside more traditional work placements.

The Cyber ​​Academy, a partnership between Deloitte, the University of Wollongong, TAFE NSW and Swinburne University, offers UK-style cybersecurity education. Beginning in 2023, Cyber ​​Academy will have hundreds of students sponsored by industry and government employers to complete a three-year degree program while receiving on-the-job training.


Apprenticeships offer employers the opportunity to build workforces in areas where there are critical skill shortages and intense competition for talent. It is a very good investment for employers. It also increases diversity in the future workforce by increasing university study opportunities for students of equal backgrounds.

The success of apprenticeships in the UK provides Australia with a model to address skills shortages and develop a highly skilled workforce for future economic growth. Training partnerships in Great Britain pay off

Brian Lowry

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