A new report by leading engineering consultancy WSP, has shed light on the potential £6bn socio-economic contribution of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) apprenticeships by quantifying the social value of getting more young people into engineering.

In collaboration with the New Economics Foundation, the consultancy used the Social Value UK SRoI* methodology to measure and quantify the social value of WSP’s apprenticeship programme for both the company and the broader community. 

Unlocking social value, which is about recognising the importance of social, environmental and economic well-being of individuals and communities in the long run is a key part of the company’s Future-Ready programme. Since the implementation of the Social Value Act (2012), the construction industry has been required to factor in social value for all UK public service contracts.

While the challenge of delivering and measuring it had been a potential stumbling block, WSP hopes that this research will create a galvanising benchmark for both the public sector and the construction industry, while making it easier to deliver on transformational infrastructure and equipping the next generation to succeed in the 21st century. 

In this assessment which was carried out before the apprenticeship levy was implemented, WSP identified that every £1 invested in its apprenticeship programme created £2.26 in return for stakeholders.

social value apprenticeship worth

“If every company involved in STEM fields and looking to apprentices to bolster their skills shortage were to apply WSP’s approach, our report found that the social value created could exceed £6bn,” says Jane Grant, Head of Learning and Development at WSP. This figure is based on the 114,400-young people that have started a STEM apprenticeship in England in 2017**.

“This research clearly demonstrates the value apprenticeships bring to a business and to the wider society,” comments Jane Grant. “We launched our apprenticeship programme back in 2010 with only one apprentice and are now proud to employ more than 180 apprentices with a further 80 joining us in September.”

The UK is predicted to need approximately 87,000 new engineers every year. As Government recognises, increasing the talent pipeline through apprenticeships is vital to deliver on the infrastructure pipeline.

“The levy has allowed us to continue tackling the skills gap in engineering by diversifying our offering of apprenticeship programmes to have both school leaver and degree level apprenticeships,” says Jane Grant. “Only 27% of 11 to 14-year olds admit to knowing what engineers do, much less transport planners and environmental consultants, yet engineering and related fields represent a quarter of the UK’s GDP. It is the Year of Engineering so a good time to celebrate the social contribution apprentices make to society, from the early conceptual stages of engineering and environmental planning right through to site construction.”



For media enquiries please contact Amelie Barrau on 07469 402 484 or amelie.barrau@wsp.com 

Notes to editors

* Social Return on Investment: Calculated by dividing the value of outcomes (less deadweight, attributions, displacement and drop-off) by the investment and input for the initiative.

** Source: Evening Standard, National Apprenticeship Week: why more young women should consider a STEM apprenticeship, Monday 5th March 2018

Report snapshot:

WSP also identified which stakeholder benefited the most from the apprenticeship programme, with apprentices coming first at 93%, and which areas had the biggest impact helping to inform future investment decision. Key findings include:

- Most of the social value created for apprentices comes from financial independence (69%), followed by career prospects and employability (19%) and supportive relationships (8%)
- Most of the social value created for line managers comes from improved promotion prospects (62%), followed by pride (23%) and improved competence (20%)
- For mentors, most of the social value created comes from improved relationships (48%) and improved promotion prospects (29%)
- And finally, most of the social value created for the learning and development teams and human resources teams alike, comes from pride (55%) followed by improved competence (22%) and fulfilment (13%)

About WSP:

WSP is one of the world's leading engineering professional services consulting firms. We are dedicated to our local communities and propelled by international brainpower. We are technical experts and strategic advisors including engineers, technicians, scientists, architects, planners, surveyors and environmental specialists, as well as other design, program and construction management professionals. We design lasting solutions in the Property & Buildings, Transportation & Infrastructure, Environment, Industry, Resources (including Mining and Oil & Gas) and Power & Energy sectors as well as project delivery and strategic consulting services.

With 7,800 talented people in the UK and more than 42,000 globally, we engineer projects that will help societies grow for lifetimes to come. WSP has been involved in many high profile UK projects including the Shard, Crossrail, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Manchester Metrolink, M1 Smart Motorway, the re-development of London Bridge Station, and the London Olympic & Paralympic Route Network. www.wsp.com/uk