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Why now is the time for employers to invest in Apprenticeships

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Paul Cliff, Assistant Director of Business Development at Selby College, says employer-led apprenticeship programmes will be critical to building back the economy following the pandemic.

This comes following the recent publishing of the Department for Education’s ‘Skills for Jobs’ white paper, which focuses on post-16 delivery as a core way to drive increased productivity and help stimulate economic recovery following the pandemic.

The paper sees the Department for Education (DfE) promising to improve and grow apprenticeships, and align higher technical education and training to employer-led standards, set by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

“For many years, apprenticeships have not been given the recognition they so rightly deserve, leading many learners to believe that carrying out a degree at university is the only route to success,” said Paul. “The benefits of apprenticeships are endless and provide learners with the flexibility and opportunity to learn real job skills while earning a wage. This opens up a range of career paths for learners, whilst enabling businesses to access talent locally or even nationally.

“Therefore, the reforms outlined in the white paper to support and improve technical training and education through funding, as well as building relationships with employers, is most welcome to many in the education sector and will go a long way in helping to rebuild the economy following the pandemic,” added Paul.

The DfE has committed to supporting teaching in Further Education, investing in higher-level technical qualifications that provide a valuable alternative to a university degree, and putting employers at the heart of the system. This will ensure that education and training can lead to jobs that can improve productivity and fill skills gaps, whilst delivering the skills that employers require for their business.

“At Selby College, we have built strong links with a range of employers from small businesses to large international organisations such as Siemens and Drax,” said Paul. “By putting our employers at the heart of our decision-making process, we are able to deliver apprenticeship programmes which can meet their specific training aims and business needs, whilst improving employment outcomes for our apprentices – something we are extremely proud of.”

The DfE also aims to support colleges in developing skills-based programmes through strategic development funding. This builds on the Chancellor’s ‘Plan for Jobs’ scheme which provides employers with a range of incentives to support their recovery post-pandemic, through apprenticeships and traineeships.

“Apprenticeships offer employers the opportunity to combine training with working needs. Whether the apprentice is a new starter or a current employee, they are able to combine time in the workplace with a package of off-the-job training to develop their skills, knowledge and behaviours designed to meet the employers’ demands. Training can take place at College or within the workplace itself at a time to suit all parties, providing a great way for employers to develop employees,” added Paul.

As part of Rishi Sunak’s plan, a range of incentives and grants are available to support the employer with the cost of this training. If an employer is to recruit a new 16-18-year-old into their business, in most cases the government will cover all training costs. Employers will receive an £3000 incentive payment and an additional £1000 grant to support them in making adaptations to their business to ensure a seamless experience for the apprentice.

Paul added: “The Chancellor’s generous apprenticeship and traineeship incentive scheme has now been extended until the end of September, making now the ideal time to explore apprenticeships and traineeships.”

The vast range of Apprenticeships Selby College offers was recently highlighted as part of its activities for National Apprenticeship Week, which included a virtual Business Breakfast for its employers. The College also took part in Leeds’s biggest virtual Apprenticeship Fair, which was attended by local employers.

If you are an employer and would like to find out more about the funding available to upskill your workforce, call 01757 211097, email apprenticeships@selby.ac.uk or visit https://selby.ac.uk/apprenticeships/ to find out more.