Don’t Get Lost in the Apprenticeship Triangle
From 14th-18th March we will be celebrating Apprenticeship Week, and with participation now standing at a record level – 871,800 funded apprentices participated on an apprenticeship in the 2014 to 2015 academic year – and with 9.19% of advanced apprentices progressing to higher education, you can understand why this year’s theme is ‘An Apprenticeship Can Take You Anywhere’.
No more are Apprenticeships the option for those who are less-academically inclined!! There are currently 75 higher and degree apprenticeships available, with more in development, including foundation degrees, HNDs and full honours degrees. These include job roles ranging from legal services to banking and engineering. But even ignoring the higher education opportunities it cannot be denied that Apprenticeships require hard work, drive and commitment, factors which present well to potential employers.
Side by Side has been offering apprenticeships in Early Years, Supporting Teaching and Learning, Play Work, Business Administration, Management and Customer Service for 7 years and had the privilege of supporting many people, young and mature, develop into confident practitioners. The workplace is such a rich learning environment in itself as well as providing the ideal opportunity to put newly acquired knowledge straight into practice, and for those of us who learn best experientially (and most of us do!), it is undoubtedly the best way to study. Not only this but apprentices are guided and supported in the workplace by experienced professionals who provide positive role models…..oh yes and we shouldn’t forget….apprentices do ‘earn whilst they learn’.
Indeed, this year one of our Early Years apprentices, Charlotte McLaughlin, was ‘highly commended’ for her entry in the Dorset Warde Apprenticeship Award, an event which seeks to acknowledge and celebrate an apprentice’s exceptional contributions to their workplace. In her application Charlotte stated, ‘As an apprentice I have had to work hard and study hard but I believe by working as part of a team alongside other practitioners who are qualified, I have demonstrated that you can be learning and still be a valued member of the team who contributes significantly to day to day working life.’ See Charlotte’s video application here.
On completing her apprenticeship Charlotte has been employed by her early years setting, Sunny Day Nurseries, and it should be said that, once qualified, even though there is no obligation for the employer to continue employing their apprentices, seven in ten (71%) do stay with the same employer. Moreover, a quarter of former apprentices receive a promotion (23%) within 12 months of finishing, and for intermediate and advanced apprentices, three quarters reported taking on more responsibility in their job after completing their apprenticeship.
This is all great news but for an apprenticeship to be successful the relationship between training provider, employer and apprentice (picture an equilateral triangle!) has to be strong, open, and honest and, as a provider, Side by Side has worked extremely hard at building these relationships, often providing additional support for the employer with regards recruitment, performance management, terms and conditions and so on. Currently the provider has the key role in this relationship, not only providing the learning but also the finances, by drawing down the apprenticeship funding, however this is all about to change.
From 2017 this relationship will fundamentally change. As part of the government’s mission to have 3 million apprenticeship starts in 2020, their plan includes putting employers ‘in the driving. Not only are employers designing the new ‘simplified’ apprenticeship standards (more than 1300 employers are involved in designing these) but they will also hold the purchasing power, with funding being paid direct to employers. Certainly this new approach does justifiably spotlight the importance of the role of the employer in the apprenticeship ‘triangle’ and the benefits to business. Almost 9 out of every 10 apprenticeship employers hoping to achieve business benefits say that apprenticeships deliver – including 89% reporting that it has helped their business improve the quality of their product or service. However training providers do share concerns that employers, particularly the small employers such as preschool settings, may well be put off apprenticeships by yet another administrative burden placed upon them by the government (as if PAYE and pensions weren’t complicated enough?!).
Well, rest assured, at Side by Side Training we have no intention of letting increased administration or costs put employers off apprenticeships (heaven forbid the government doesn’t reach its 2020 targets!!). As firm believers in the apprenticeship programme we are stepping forward, taking a holistic approach to the issue, and extending our service to guide employers through the impending apprenticeship ‘maze’. We have already updated our website and introduced an employer’s section where we provide regular information and direction as the government plans unfold – catch snippet updates on our Facebook page or Twitter feed. Added to this we will offer a bespoke consultancy service, offering advice and support with recruitment of apprentices as well as the accompanying administration.
And as always we will continue to offer advice, support and training to our apprentices starting with our new Infoguide on our website; a mine of information about career options, apprenticeships, qualifications and courses offered by Side by Side and even how to build your CV; and followed by a helpful chat and a cuppa with one of our experienced assessors/tutors.
So let’s celebrate Apprenticeship Week 2016 as a great opportunity to highlight apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy. Indeed remember ‘An Apprenticeship Can Take You Anywhere’ but, whether a potential apprentice or an employer, we will walk with you through your learning journey, Side by Side!