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In conversation with Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, about National Apprenticeship Week

03-07 February 2020 sees the arrival of National Apprenticeship Week, putting this important route to employment in the spotlight. Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, highlights the benefits that apprentices can bring to businesses and new support that’s on offer from 2020.

If you’re a business planning for 2020 and beyond, it’s likely that staffing and skills will be on your list of priorities.

Apprenticeships can be a great way of bringing fresh talent and skills to your business, by employing an apprentice or upskilling staff via an apprenticeship scheme, with qualifications going all the way up to degree-level.

From 2020, larger employers who pay the Apprenticeship Levy can transfer up to 25 percent of their funds to smaller businesses to support them to take on an apprentice, which is great news for SMEs.

However, smaller businesses often tell us that they struggle with ‘where to start’ when it comes to hiring an apprentice; from how to fund an apprenticeship to recruiting the right person for the job.

To support businesses in that situation, we’ve just updated our Apprenticeship Toolkit on the North East Growth Hub to offer simple and clear advice on where to start and where to get support.

The Toolkit brings together useful information to help businesses find, recruit, train and develop an apprentice. It also includes case studies from local businesses that have benefited from employing apprentices.

On a national level, a significant development for 2020 is that all employers in England will soon have access to all the benefits of the National Apprenticeship Service – including greater choice of quality training providers, more control over how they pay for training, and how they access and recruit apprentices.

The transition of non-levy paying businesses onto the full apprenticeship service will take place from early 2020 and extra funding will be available to support up to 5,000 new apprenticeship starts through the service every month until March 2020.

If you’re not able to offer an apprenticeship, you might want to consider offering a traineeship instead, which consist of 20 percent on-the-job and 80 percent off-the-job training.

Traineeships help 16 to 24-year-olds get ready for a job or apprenticeship if they don’t have the appropriate skills or experience. It involves a minimum of 100 hours of work experience over a maximum of six months. Employers need to deliver a meaningful work experience to the trainee, but it’s a much smaller time commitment than an apprenticeship. It’s a great way to give someone their first step onto the career ladder, and your business gets to benefit from an injection of fresh ideas and talent too.

During 2018/19, we saw over 15,500 apprenticeships start in our region. By offering an apprenticeship or traineeship, businesses can help to improve skills across the North East, boosting the economy and creating more and better jobs. It would be fantastic to see these numbers really grow from 2020 onwards.

To find out more about the benefits of apprenticeships and the value they can add to your business, visit the Apprenticeship Toolkit on the North East Growth Hub.

You can also find more information about apprenticeships and traineeships by visiting www.gov.uk or www.apprenticeships.gov.uk.

 

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In conversation with George Ritchie MBE, Chair of the North East Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network

By the year 2020 there will be three million new quality apprenticeships in the UK, that’s the ambitious target set by the government.

It’s a figure that reflects the resurgence in apprenticeships across the business community. More than 2.2 million apprenticeships have been created since 2010 and that number is growing.

As a member of the North East LEP’s Apprenticeship Growth Partnership, we’re working with government to help realise that target by supporting businesses in developing more apprenticeship vacancies and higher level apprenticeships. We want to see high quality apprenticeship provision that businesses really value.

I am a passionate supporter of apprenticeships and traineeships. I believe they’re a fantastic route to work for many young people and they provide businesses with access to a talented pool of ambitious, creative and committed workers.

As Chair of the North East Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network, it’s my role to grow the apprenticeships programme in the North East by engaging employers and promoting the benefits of apprenticeships and traineeships. In the five years I’ve been in the role I’ve seen a huge step change in the value and importance employers place on apprenticeships but there’s definitely more we can do.

One of the new initiatives we’ve introduced is the North East Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network – a collective of passionate and talented apprentices whose role it is to be the voice of apprenticeships and traineeships in the region.

As committed as I am to flying the flag for apprenticeships, I know that young people respond to advice and guidance from friends and their peers; someone like them explaining why an apprenticeship or traineeship is a great route to work is far more valuable.

That’s why you’ll be seeing members of our North East Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network at skills events, jobs/careers fairs and delivering talks in schools and colleges to enthuse and inspire the next generation of apprentices.

One of the first events the Network was involved in was actually one of the most significant. In September this year the Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Minister of State at the Department for Education, visited the North East to see first hand the positive impact apprenticeships and traineeships are having amongst young people.

Rhys Goulden, a member of the North East Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network who is currently working towards a Higher Apprenticeship in Mechanical Maintenance with Unipres UK, delivered a fantastic presentation to the Minister about the value of the apprenticeships and traineeships. Rhys did an outstanding job and the event really showed us how important the Network will be going forward.

All our young apprenticeship ambassadors go through a formal training session where they gain skills in communication, presentation and develop the self-esteem and confidence that will see them flourish in their careers. We’d like to recruit more people like Rhys to join the Network and help us raise the profile of apprenticeships amongst young people and businesses right across the North East.

If your business supports apprenticeships and traineeships, at any level, and you have a dedicated and committed member of the team you’d like to put forward to be part of the North East Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network, I’d love to hear from you.

The Network is one of only four across the entire country and my ambition is for it to be the best. For that to happen we need more outstanding young apprentices to join us.

For more information and to put an apprentice forward to join the North East Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network, please email me on [email protected] or call 01642 623 000.

I’m enormously proud of the all the young ambassadors involved in the Network and I look forward to working them, and others, to reach the government’s target of three million new apprenticeships by 2020.

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By George Ritchie MBE
Chair of the North East Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network

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Get In Go Far

Get In Go Far is the government’s new advertising campaign, informing and inspiring young people to consider apprenticeships, traineeships and work experience as valid and credible routes to a rewarding career.

According to the government’s research, 70% of employers say that apprenticeships improved their products or services and the North East LEP recognises that apprenticeships are key to delivering more and better jobs and improving skills here in the North East.

We aim to reach a target of 30% of North East businesses employing an apprentice by 2017 and are investing in pre-apprenticeship training and traineeships.

We are also delivering support to North East SMEs to help them identify opportunities and create new opportunities for young people, though a partnership scheme – Generation NE.

The £4.5m scheme, which is led by a partnership of local authorities and the North East LEP, will provide dedicated support through a team of specialist business advisors, to businesses to help them offer work placements and traineeships.

Gill Southern, Co-Chair of our North East Business Support Board said: “Providing young people with work experience and skills development is essential. The local economy has great potential, but without the right workforce we won’t be able to achieve our ambitions for sustainable economic growth. SMEs are critical to providing these opportunities, and through schemes such as Generation NE we can ensure that they have the support they need to do this.”

Visit www.getingofar.gov.uk to find out more about the Get In Go Far campaign.