Increasing the number of higher level apprenticeships is a priority for the North East. They offer learners and employers a real alternative choice and are fundamental to tackling the growing skills gap. And, research clearly shows there is the demand for apprenticeships, with higher than national numbers of young people in the North East choosing them to launch their careers.
We’ve already started the journey – working with skills providers we have helped deliver an additional 150 higher lever apprenticeships for next year. But it is not just about numbers though, it’s also about tailoring apprenticeships to meet market demands.
Working with partners we are delivering projects and interventions to make this happen. We have set ourselves some ambitious targets and are delivering projects to meet them.
Working together to deliver more apprenticeships
The North East Apprenticeship Hub is a partner initiative with the ultimate aim of increasing the number of the right apprenticeships for the North East.
By providing a focal point for local action and support it will promote the benefits of apprenticeships to potential employers and applicants and encourage more businesses to take on apprentices. It will bring together partners to join together priorities, resources and activities around apprenticeships. And working with providers it will help to create the right programmes to meet local business needs, providing locally tailored and easily accessible advice and guidance.
Independent support will be available through a website, containing helpful guides and advice on funding. It will bring people together in one place, to liaise, learn and share knowledge and better understand why and how to take on an apprentice. The site is due to launch early next year.
Understanding the best way forward
The North East has great support for apprenticeships – with programmes such as the Journal’s Proud to Back Apprenticeships already championing the benefits. It’s critical that the Hub builds on this work, rather than just replicating it under a different name.
Earlier this year we commissioned New Skills Consulting and TBR to undertake research to better understand the needs and potential of apprenticeships in the North East. It looked at what are the true barriers to apprenticeships and what is needed to overcome these.
It focused on three specific areas – analysis of current data and statistics to provide baseline of current activity and attitudes; talking to businesses, training providers other stakeholders to build up a true understanding of barriers and possible solutions to the take up of apprenticeships; presenting the findings and providing recommendations.
The report will be instrumental to shaping the direction of apprenticeship programmes in the North East and support continued economic growth. The findings of the research set out four areas of activity which are around improving engagement with schools; co-ordinating a pre-apprenticeship programme; improving information and support for employers new to apprenticeships and increasing marketing and PR activity.
The full report will be published in the new year
Supporting higher apprenticeships
Its not just about increasing numbers – to be successful in tackling the skills gap they also have to be the right apprenticeships, of which higher apprenticeships are essential.
This month we brought together training and education providers in a seminar to look at best practice in developing a higher apprenticeship programme. The sold out seminar included speakers from Accenture, ID training, University of Sunderland and the SFA, raised the profile and the benefits of higher apprenticeships and is a step towards bringing more and better apprenticeships to the North East.