News: Report

APS calls on PM for skills investment to counter recession

10 June 2020  
Posted by: Adam Harding
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Wednesday 10 June 2020

The Association of Professional Sales (APS) has written to the Prime Minister backing his guarantee of an apprenticeship for every 2020 school leaver who needs one,[1] and urging him to support the pledge with extra money.

Andy Hough, the APS chief executive, told Boris Johnson and the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak in separate letters that investing in sales skills was particularly important given the worsening economic situation.

The UK unemployment rate is likely to rise from 4% to 11% this quarter, according to a forecast released today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.[2] The OECD forecasts an 11.5% slump in the UK economy over the second half of this year.

Apprenticeships have already been an economic success story for the UK, adding £2.4bn in productivity to the UK economy in 2019-20. In the view of the APS, the non-profit professional body for the sales industry, expanding apprenticeships is essential to fill the skills shortages that are damaging productivity. Skills shortages are particularly acute in the sales sector.[3]

Guaranteed apprenticeships will not only be a lifeline to school leavers in this summer’s difficult jobs market, but will represent a wise investment in the UK’s future commercial capability. Sales apprentices with higher-level qualifications accredited by the APS [4] will increase productivity, and help to generate the revenue that will pull the country out of what is forecast to be the deepest peacetime recession in 100 years.[5]

Skilled sales people will also be essential to identify new overseas markets for British goods and services after Brexit.

Small and medium-sized businesses are however unlikely to offer more apprenticeships unless the government is prepared to offer further financial incentives. The APS is urging Rishi Sunak to include a contribution towards apprentice wages in the economic stimulus package he is due to announce in July, in addition to existing support for training costs.

Andy Hough, CEO of the Association of Professional Sales, said: “Investing in sales apprenticeships is an investment in Britain’s future, creating a solid skill base for sales in the UK.

“Apprenticeships in sales are already directly contributing to increased economic performance. Every apprenticeship that up-skills people will be important to the economy, however in the recession that will last well into 2021, it is sales with its ability to generate revenues that will be most vital.”

Ben Turner, chief operating officer of the APS, responsible for education and training, said: “Calling for salary support may seem like a temporary return to the old apprenticeship scheme, but it is in fact a targeted extension of the furlough scheme, building our nation's commercial skills to address both this recession and increasing our post-Brexit commercial revenue capability.”


1 Boris Johnson, Downing Street daily coronavirus briefing, 3 June 2020. “For young people in particular, who the risk is they will be out of jobs for a long time, I think it’s going to be vital that we guarantee apprenticeships.”

2 Source: OECD, 10 June 2020,

3 The Missing Link, APPG for Professional Sales inquiry report, October 2019, page 6.

4 The APS is the accrediting body for B2B Sales apprentices at Level 6, leading to a degree, and at Level 4. Research suggests that higher level apprenticeships that lead to qualifications in business skills have a greater economic impact.

5 Laurence Boone, OECD chief economist: “By the end of 2021, the loss of income exceeds that of any previous recession over the last 100 years outside wartime, with dire and long-lasting consequences for people, firms and governments. Extraordinary policies will be required to walk the tightrope towards recovery.”

Click here to see letter to the Prime Minister.