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Looking back on 2014 – celebrating 100 years of Apprenticeships

England has a long history of Apprenticeships stretching right back to the Middle Ages. Apprentices would join a Guild’s master craftsman to learn a skill and be bind them to working with them for between five and nine years. In Elizabethan times a law was passed to protect the apprenticeship system which forbade anyone practising a trade or craft without first having served seven years as an apprentice to a master.

As 2014 marked the centenary of World War 1 the Government is running The Centenary Apprenticeship Programme as one of a series of cultural and educational remembrance events in local communities. The aim is to recruit 100 businesses that have been operating for at least 100 years and who have a focus on crafts and skills which existed then and are still used now even if they have a more modern application.

The idea is that these businesses will share their trades, demonstrate skills with local schools and communities and inspire fresh interest in what they do.  This will make sure that Apprenticeships are at the front of parents’ and teachers’ minds and remind everyone what a successful and worthwhile route into employment apprenticeships can be.

What were apprenticeships like 100 years ago?

Then, as now, apprenticeships were valued by employers as a valuable system of vocational training. The main trades however have changed. According to the 1911 census the top apprenticeships in 1914 included dressmaking, carpentry, millinery, tailoring and plumbing. In contrast some of the most popular apprenticeships in 2014 are Health and social care, business administration, management, hospitality and catering and construction skills.

One hundred years ago most apprentices started work when they aged 15-17 years old compared with 19-24 years old these days. The proportion of women employed as apprenticeships has risen sharply from 22% 100 years ago to 55% today.

Some things haven’t changed. Employees in 1914 provided training on-the-job as well as education as is the model today. However the apprentices had to pay their employer for their training and also had to pay for their tools. Employers could take their apprentices to court if they were late, had a bad attitude or were ‘idle’. The apprentice could even end up in gaol!

Apprenticeships today

Today, like 100 years ago, employers value apprenticeships as a way of giving young people the skills to help business flourish. It is as important now as it was then for us to build a skilled work force and this is recognised by some of Britain’s  biggest companies  including Google, IBM and PCW as well as many smaller local businesses. There are now over 100 000 employers now offering apprenticeships in over 170 different industries. 1.9 million young people have embarked on an apprenticeship since 2010 so it has never been a better time to think about taking on an apprentice or becoming an apprentice.

Give us a call on 01732 402 402  for more information about how apprenticeships can help your business to grow.

Runway Training Modern Slavery Statement

Runway Apprenticeships Limited trading as Runway Training wishes its learners and commissioners to be confident in the knowledge that we operate a zero tolerance approach to modern slavery and human trafficking, and we are working hard to ensure that these bad practises do not exist anywhere within our organisation or within in our supply chain.


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