3rd Oct 2016
The Government has adopted a long-term commitment to supporting the expansion, funding, and promotion of apprenticeship schemes. This is part of a wider focus to ensure Britain’s skills-based economy remains competitive, especially relevant following the Brexit vote.
In addition, the Prime
Minister has been clear that she wants to create a country that works for
everyone. A crucial part of this will be apprenticeships which will give more
young people from poorer backgrounds the opportunity to get new skills and find
meaningful and lasting employment.
As part of this renewed
commitment, The Government are introducing the new apprenticeships levy from
May 2017 that will see large businesses with pay bills in excess of £3 million
a year paying 0.5% of that pay bill towards the cost of providing
apprenticeships. It is also creating the Institute of Apprenticeships to
regulate apprenticeship standards and ensure apprenticeships better reflect the
needs and requirements of employers.
Given the changes to
funding and oversight of apprenticeships, there is now a real opportunity for
customer service skills to be included as a fundamental part of all apprenticeship
programmes to a consistent standard.
The figures, complied
by The Institute for Customer Service, speak for themselves: 1 in 6 customers
experience poor customer service at least once a week and 84% of customers
think those working in customer service-related roles require more training.
Not only will improved
customer service skills benefit employees through helping to advance their
careers and their earning potential but it is an excellent return on investment
for business through better trained and motivated staff in customer-facing
The benefit for the wider economy is also clear. With 70% of the UK’s workforce operating in customer-facing roles investment in the customer service skills of apprentices will lead to an upskilled workforce as they carry those vital transferable skills with them through their working lives. 
and Skills Minister, Robert Halfron, has already spoken about the need to
improve the quality of apprenticeships and ensure that the skills they equip
people with are relevant to business and are transferable. With business
already reporting difficulties in recruiting staff because 1 in 3 lack
appropriate customer handling skills now is the time to ensure that customer
service skills are put at the heart of all apprenticeships standards. This will be a key
priority for The Institute of Customer Service in the coming months.
 Research carried out on behalf of The Institute of Customer Service by TLF Research in May 2016 using an online panel. There were 2,014 respondents in total.
 Unpublished research by the Institute of Customer Service research, 2013
 UK Commission for Employment and Skills, Employer Skills Survey 2015: UK Results, (January 2016), Fig 2.5 p43