The 5% Club is a group of employers committed to the constant development of their workforce. 

By joining The 5% Club, members aspire to achieve 5% of their workforce in ‘earn and learn’ positions (including apprentices, sponsored students and graduates on formalised training schemes) within five years of joining.

We sat down with Gill Cronin, Director of Operations at The 5% Club, to find out a little more about the group and what makes their members’ such fantastic apprenticeship employers.

Why do you believe it is important that employers commit 5% of their workforce to ‘earn and learn’ positions?

The 5% figure was chosen because it was felt to be achievable yet significant – we want to make sure all businesses of all sizes can feel a part of the movement, The 5% Club. 

We do however say the figure is aspirational because we recognise for some businesses, reaching 5% quickly may not be possible. So, 5% is a guide and a target.

How many member organisations do you currently have?

The group was founded in 2013 and we now have over 400 organisations as members.

You can see a full list of current members here.

How much do apprenticeships contribute to the 5%?

I don’t have the exact data, but would estimate that apprenticeships account for about 70% of the ‘earn and learn’ positions we know about. Of course, this can fluctuate across different businesses.  

For example, some organisations ‘earn and learn’ intake is apprentices only, while others have very developed graduate programmes. 

Have you personally seen an increase in apprenticeships over the last 5-10 years?

This is difficult to say. The apprenticeship levy has, of course, had an impact on awareness, but as the ESFA data shows, this hasn’t yet translated into a huge expansion in apprenticeship numbers.

How do you believe we can encourage more apprenticeship opportunities and uptake for more companies to achieve 5% status?

I’m not saying anything anyone hasn’t said before – but more must be done in schools to show young people (and children) positive role models of those who have chosen to pursue a more ‘vocational’ route as opposed to the university route.

Old, outdated attitudes and stereotypes still exist. Parents don’t know enough to advise their children and don’t know where to find information. If you want to go to university – there is information everywhere. If you want to find out about apprenticeships – it can be an onerous and difficult process. 

In your opinion, what qualities do the best companies in the 5% club have that attract the best apprentice candidates?

Hard one to answer as so many of our members are so different.

I suppose some examples were showcased at our event we held in July with the Ministry of Defence alongside the UK Invictus Trials. We had members showing how they offer development opportunities outside of an apprenticeship such as challenges; leadership skills development; competitions such as WorldSkills, mentoring plus ensuring parity of esteem for apprentices.


A massive thank you to Gill Cronin for taking the time to talk to us! To find out more about The 5% Club take a look at 5percentclub.org.uk or follow them on Twitter.

For a little help navigating the world of apprenticeships, why not check out our vacancies page?

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