“What we want is for people to invest in apprenticeships on a long term basis”

To mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week, Leo Quinn, CEO of one of The 5% Club founding members QinetiQ, joined Evan Davis and Simon Jack on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning.

As a new report released by the Department for Business revealed that 44% of employers in the UK plan to take on apprentices in the UK, Quinn praised National Apprenticeship Week and the work of The 5% Club, but called for more action to be taken in order to tackle the UK’s skills shortage.

“We look at apprenticeships as apprenticeships for life- what’s happening for the other 51 weeks (of the year). What we want is people to invest in apprenticeships on a long term basis.

“The 5% Club is designed for any corporation to make a public declaration that 5% of their employee base will be made up of apprentices or graduates on formal training schemes”.

Leo Quinn was joined by QinetiQ apprentice Robert, who spoke of the inspiration that led him to pursue an apprenticeship.

“When I was seventeen, my great-uncle left me his toolbox when he passed away, and in that toolbox was a picture along with a letter. The letter explained how he became an apprentice during the Second World War. After reading the letter, it really drove me to becoming an apprentice myself”

When asked why he pursued an apprenticeship over going to university, Robert explained:

“I went into an apprenticeship when youth unemployment was quite high. I decided to go for an apprenticeship because I’d have the hands on skills and ability afterwards to get a job. You need the skills alongside the knowledge”.

Pressed as to whether recruiting apprentices is worth its while for SME’s, Quinn spoke of the true economic value of such a programme:

“Apprentices rejuvenate the employment space. They’re creative, they’re energising, and they value they add far outweighs any cost that they incur”.

To follow the progress of The 5% Club, and the activities of our members during National Apprenticeship Week, follow @5percentclubuk and @LeoQuinn_UK.


Four New Companies Join The 5% Club

The 5% Club have kicked off 2014 with the signing up of four new companies, including Balfour Beatty and Thales. All of the new members have committed to the Club Charter, ensuring that 5% of their workforce are apprentices, graduates or sponsored students on structured programmes within the next five years.

The four new members to join The 5% Club are:

  • Balfour Beatty– An international infrastructure group, with 20,000 employers in the UK.
  • Thales– One of the UK’s leading engineering and technology companies.
  • The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory– The MOD’s science and technology organisation.
  • Attenda– One of the UK’s largest data centre and Cloud supplier.

The four new additions brings the current number of companies in The 5% Club to 18 and the total number of UK employees to 100,000.


Balfour Beatty Chief Executive, Andrew McNaughton said: “The growth of the construction industry will be vital to helping the UK economic recovery, but at the same time the industry is facing the prospect of a skills shortage. By helping young people to get into work with the proper training and qualifications we can ensure the sustainability of our own business and the wider communities in which we work.”


Victor Chavez, CEO of Thales UK, said: “Organisations that do not invest in the next generation are not only failing to secure their own future, they are also failing in their responsibility to the young people of the UK.  For Thales to remain at the forefront of the UK’s engineering and technology projects, and more broadly for the UK to have the right level of engineering and technical skills to meet future global demand, we must ensure we have excellent training and development programmes in place.

Thales has a strong culture of training and development that stretches back decades and we have developed a comprehensive suite of training experiences for young people – including our excellent graduate development programme, apprentice schemes, internships and other mentoring initiatives that combine learning and working. Our membership of The 5% Club demonstrates Thales Group’s long-term commitment to training and Thales UK’s commitment to the young people of the UK.”


Dstl’s Chief Executive Jonathan Lyle said: “As a public sector science and technology organisation, Dstl is delighted to join The 5% club. We are passionate about supporting and employing young people by offering a variety of opportunities including apprenticeships, industrial placements, Year In Industry placements and graduate opportunities – they bring innovation and fresh ideas into our workforce as well as helping us to play our part in addressing the UK’s skills shortages.”


Leo Quinn, CEO of QinetiQ Group PLC, a founder member of The 5% Club, said: “The breadth of different organisations to have signed up – from construction to law – shows how widely youth unemployment is seen as a national issue – and how much industry wants to raise our skills training in the UK.

“This is a terrific start to 2014 for The 5% Club and we urge other companies to follow Balfour Beatty, Thales, Osborne Clarke, DSTL and Attenda in signing up.”

Companies wishing to sign up to The 5% Club or which simply would like more information can visit www.5percentclub.org.uk or email contactus@5percentclub.org.uk

Pinsent Masons Joins The 5% Club

Pinsent Masons

The 5% Club are delighted to announce that Pinsent Masons has become the first law firm to pledge their support to reaching the 5% employment target for graduates, apprentices and sponsored students.

The company has become the latest major blue chip to join The 5% Club since its formation in October.

Jonathan Bond, Director of HR and Learning at Pinsent Masons, says:

“We have always had a commitment to recruiting and retaining the best talent in the market, from a variety of backgrounds, in order to develop the future leaders of the legal profession and respond to the current and anticipated needs of our clients. By joining The 5% Club we wanted to formalise that commitment and reinforce the importance we attach to giving young people a chance to develop fulfilling careers in legal and non-legal roles.”

As a member, Pinsent Masons will sign a charter aspiring to work towards 5% of their UK workforce being young people on structured training schemes over the next five years.

Leo Quinn, QinetiQ Group CEO and founding member of The 5% Club commented:

“Pinsent Masons joining The 5%Club shows the inclusive nature of this campaign and emphasises  the need to address this important issue across a range of industries.

“We must continue to drive for the fullest possible participation in The 5% Club: – this is a vital UK-wide issue which must be addressed by all business leaders.”

Companies wishing to sign up to The 5% Club or which simply would like more information can visit www.5percentclub.org.uk or email contactus@5percentclub.org.uk


Seen & Heard: This week in The 5% Club

Coverage in the Telegraph, a new member announcement and representation at the European Employment Forum in Belgium: Its been a busy week for The 5% Club…

QinetiQ chief executive Leo Quinn advocated the use of apprentices, sponsored students and graduates in order to create ‘employability and employment’ in the Telegraph on Friday.

Quinn emphasised Britain’s pedigree for engineering and innovation, describing the country as a ‘byword for invention’:

“On their shoulders a small island stood tall, ranged far and built many wonders of the modern world.”

However, Quinn urged the nation to address chronic skills-shortages in order to generate industrial growth:

Young people are the very resource critical to our future ability to grow and compete globally, to revive Britain’s engineering reputation. For us as industrialists, developing our young people is a straightforward business imperative: as parents and citizens, it is also a moral one.

Leo Quinn also took part in an engineering Q&A for the Telegraph on Friday. Quinn described engineering as one of the ‘great traditions of Great Britain’.

Innovation still drives our world and engineering gives an amazing opportunity to be part of mankind’s ongoing advances.

Tomorrow, QinetiQ’s Head of Sustainability Sam Healy will be part of a panel that discusses Youth Unemployment at a Conference in Belgium. Keep an eye on @5PercentClubUK for the latest talking points from the discussion.

We are proud to announce that Natasha Pitts, an apprentice from The 5% Club member Dale Power Solutions, has been named as one of three Higher Apprentices of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards. Natasha has also been shortlisted by STEMNET for the Most Inspirational Apprentice award, which will take place later this month. We wish her the best of luck!

Lastly, we are delighted to announce a new member to The 5% Club. Engineering consultancy Clark Eriksson have pledged their support to the Club’s cause and have adopted the 5% employment target for graduates, apprentices and sponsored students within their organisation.

Stay tuned for more member updates from The 5% Club this week.

Another Great Step Forward For British Apprentices

Prime Minister David Cameron’s intentions to overhaul British Apprenticeships has been hailed as ‘another great step forward’ by QinetiQ CEO and co-founder of The 5% Club, Leo Quinn.

Cameron spoke to 600 apprentices at the Mini Plant in Oxford on Monday, and revealed his plans introduce year-long apprenticeships that will be graded on a three-point scale to put them on par with qualifications.

Introducing the new initiative, the Prime Minister said: “What we’re announcing is going to make a massive difference to thousands of young people’s lives. It involves 2 things.

“One: we’re saying; if you want an apprenticeship, we’re going to make sure you do the best apprenticeship in the world. The reforms we’re announcing today will put employers in the driving seat and ensure that we deliver high quality training that supports you and our economy for years to come. 

“Two: we’re saying if you need help preparing for an apprenticeship or want to get straight into the world of work, we’ll help you to”.

Leo Quinn welcomed the overhaul and called on British industry to step up their efforts:  “We as employers need to recognize that better apprentice and graduate programmes, and the investment in skills they represent, are critical to our ability to compete effectively for the exports that will drive our economic growth.

“By creating new opportunities for tomorrow’s generation, British industry can help Government schemes such as Trailblazer Pilots to make a lifelong difference to the career prospects of the next generation and their ability to share in our national prosperity.

“What gets measured, gets done, and I call on all companies of all sizes to join The 5% Club and meet the challenge of investing in a generation.”

Latest Figures Reveal 958,000 Unemployed Youths

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) have released the latest figures on the labour market, revealing that youth unemployment currently stands at 958,000, a figure that has changed little since the start of 2013.

The unemployment rate for 18-24 year olds has risen by 0.1 percentage points to 21.0%, with a total of 2.66 million young people economically inactive (75% of which are in full-time education).

In total, there are 3.6 million 18-24 year olds in employment in the UK, a figure that has decreased by 34,000 since May.

Leo Quinn, QinetiQ Group CEO and a founder of The 5% Club,  said:

“Although these figures show overall unemployment falling, they continue to highlight our challenge with youth unemployment. The UK is globally disadvantaged by its skills shortage, yet we still have over [one million] 16-24 year olds with no career prospects.

“A lot of good work is being done from the education end: now it’s up to us in industry to create the jobs in which our young people can develop their ability and drive Britain’s future prosperity. We set up The 5% Club to galvanise those of us in corporate life to invest in this generation: we need as many companies as possible to sign up and help improve this situation.”

To view the latest ONS labour market data, click here.

The Scotsman, 9th October 2013

The Scotsman

The Scotsman saluted the launch of the 5% Club, agreeing with Leo Quinn that getting young people into structured training schemes is ‘both a business and social imperative’.

But it is time Britain stopped being “aspirational”, or less politely all mouth and no trousers, in the field of apprenticeships. We wish the five per cent club the very best.”