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ViewPoint: Apprenticeship Levy Needs ‘Shake Up’ to Serve Businesses and Communities
January 20, 2020
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Two of the UK’s leading figures in Technical Education and Skills are calling for a radical shake-up of the Apprenticeship Levy System so it better serves both businesses and their communities. Contributor Neil Bates, Chair of The Edge Foundation and John Baumback, Managing Director – Seetec.

John Baumback, started his career as an apprentice with Seetec and is now Group MD: “We know that most large businesses understand their corporate responsibilities, and many have ambitious CSR programmes to support communities, schools and good causes. 

“My idea is simple, rather than unspent levy being given back to HM Treasury, businesses should be able to use these funds to support educational programmes in their local communities. There are many examples of businesses like Investec, JLR, Greggs, Ford, UBS and BP who invest in education and in young people. It makes good business sense to do so because these young people are the workforce of the future.” 

The call for more flexibility is supported by CBI Deputy Director, Josh Hardie, who last year highlighted the case of a large insurer which runs an apprenticeship programme, internships, traineeships and work placements, but none are Levy-compliant due to the inflexibility of the scheme.

Unintended Consequences
In the first six months of the levy in 2017, apprenticeship starts fell off a cliff, plummeting by 40 percent on the previous year. In the Levy’s first full year, employers used just 15 percent of the £3.9 billion pot. While this rose to 22 percent by January 2019, this still amounted to some £300m a month of unspent levy being taken back by HM Treasury. 

A survey of employers for People Management highlighted that, of those that planned to use the levy, 35 percent planned to use it on MBA or management training.  Bates says while there is nothing wrong with genuine apprenticeships for older workers, there is little evidence of funding being used to encourage more school leavers to secure a high-quality apprenticeship.

He believes the absence of an early talent pipeline will impact on UK businesses in a post-Brexit world where technical skills will be at a premium. An Edge Foundation report highlights that two-thirds of UK apprentice starts are conversions of existing workers over the age of 25. In Germany and Austria, 35 percent of all post-secondary school students are on an apprenticeship, in the UK it is just 4 percent. Bates says the low numbers of 16-18 year olds starting on high-quality advanced apprenticeships, particularly in STEM subjects, is a fundamental weakness in the UK skills system. 

The Levy is Not Enough
Baumback stresses that the best UK employers understand the need for a skills strategy to ensure a pipeline of talent to compete in a global market. Most also have a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy linking the business to the local community and the education system to ensure that growth is inclusive.

Baumback and Bates argue that the best way to achieve long-term employer buy-in is to link these strategies. Allowing levy funds to be used for educational CSR initiatives would make a compelling business and social case.  

Building Lasting Partnerships
A strong example is Ford’s Next Generation Learning (NGL) programme, recently introduced into the UK in partnership with the Edge Foundation, North East LEP and local schools.

The aims are to strengthen the talent pipeline, prepare young people for college, careers, lifelong learning and leadership, achieve educational equity and increase community prosperity. According to Bates and Baumback, this is one of many examples of large employers engaging with their local communities and building links between schools and employers. 

Bates cites Basildon, which grew up around the automotive industry in the 1960s, as an example of a community which could benefit from this approach. While technological change has transformed the town into an advanced engineering powerhouse, with highly-skilled, well-paid jobs, he argues the local education system has not kept pace.

“The consequence is that many residents do not have the education and skills needed to access these well-paid jobs. Young people, especially, are not sharing in this success. We need to make growth inclusive and allowing big business to use their levy to invest in the community benefits everyone”. 

Bates and Baumback say this would make the levy a force for good, fostering partnerships between large employers, local authorities, schools and communities. It would build on regional skills devolution, shifting control of policy and resources away from central government and into the hands of those that will benefit from it. 

This would be a logical next step in the reform of apprenticeships and technical education, they conclude. They are urging business groups to campaign for more flexibility, while developing a strategy to use the levy more productively.

Career Advising in a VUCA World
January 20, 2020
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The expression VUCA has been around for decades. And yet, it’s as relevant today in business as it was when first introduced in the 1980s by the US military. VUCA — which stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity — describes an unpredictable workplace characterized by constant flux, unknowns and unknowables. It’s the new normal facing most leaders today.

Career Management in a VUCA World

It’s also the new normal facing most employees, who struggle daily to navigate the murkiness to deliver business results. But the murkiness doesn’t stop there.

It extends into our relationship with career development, a feature of the business landscape that in many organizations has remained frozen in time and unresponsive to contemporary organizational realities.

Today’s VUCA workplace demands VUCA career development — an approach to growth that’s:

  • Versatile
  • Uplifting
  • Choice-filled
  • Active

VUCA career development, while sounding daunting, actually boils down to small adjustments to the mindsets and behaviours of employees and leaders. Five shifts that can easily be incorporated into existing processes — and can lead to dramatically enhanced results — follow.

1. Habitualized reflection

The “one and done” career-planning approach from the past is insufficiently agile to accommodate today’s workplace. Employees must lead the way by developing the capacity for, and commitment to, constantly deepening their self-awareness. They must routinely challenge their understanding of themselves, their strengths, opportunities, interests and values. They must make it a conscious practice to consider more critically the world around them. This means intentionally prioritizing until they become habits such mental processes as connecting the dots among events, extracting lessons from challenges and failure, and updating their understanding of the unique value proposition they have to offer.

2. Ongoing conversation

As employees deepen their self-awareness and develop the reflection habit, it becomes incumbent upon leaders to tap this reservoir of information and insight. And this happens through conversation, but not the once-a-year organizationally-prescribed meeting. While that can be important, it can also become stale within weeks or months. What’s required is an ongoing dialogue, slipped right into the workflow and routine interactions. Short conversations about the employee, what’s going on in the organization and even broader industry and strategic trends offers tremendous benefits. It keeps career-development thinking fresh, is motivational and generates a deeper bond and greater loyalty between employees and leaders.

3. Pencilled possibility planning

VUCA development is flexible, adaptable and fluid. As a result, career-development plans can no longer be cast in concrete with the expectation of an annual lifespan. Employees need to play out multiple possibilities concurrently, holding each lightly and being willing to change as necessary. Scenario planning is the name of the game. They need to mine the overlap among possible ways forward for highest-impact actions. And, they need to go where they’ve got energy and where there are greater chances for growth-related traction.

4. Commitment to high-impact actions

In days gone by, the output of a career-development plan was a highly structured game plan with prescribed steps and structured schedules. Not any longer! What’s required to respond to today’s changeable conditions is something nimbler and more iterative. Formal development opportunities like workshops, webinars and e-learning may not be flexible enough to meet turn-on-a-dime needs. As a result, employees and leaders may want to lean more heavily into informal or unstructured learning (which includes development experiences, mentoring, visibility, and networking) to offer spot or targeted high-impact actions that work within the employee’s (versus the organization’s) timeline.

5. Routine recognition and reinforcement

Let’s face it. Fitting development into already bursting-at-the-seams workloads can be challenging. It’s easy for employees to let their growth and learning take a backseat to more urgent concerns. That’s where leaders can play a valuable role. Catching people acting on their developmental intentions is inspiring. Acknowledging the acquisition of new skills or experiences is uplifting. Offering feedback, coaching or ideas on one’s efforts to expand capacity and contribution is motivating. When leaders do these things – when they pick up on cues and make recognition and reinforcement part of their cadence – they can accomplish all of this and more.

Careers exist in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment; but career development doesn’t have to be fall victim to these challenging conditions. In fact, these characteristics can actually offer tremendous opportunity for employees and leaders who are willing to make the process more versatile, uplifting, choice-filled and active by embracing these five shifts.

By Julie Winkle Giulioni. Named one of Inc. Magazine’s top 100 leadership speakers, Giulioni is the co-author of the Amazon and Washington Post bestseller “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want,” You can learn more about her speaking, training and blog at JulieWinkleGiulioni.com.

Latest Careers England News – Issue 147
Career professionals recognised in New Year’s Honours
Congratulations to Louise Proctor, Head of the National Careers Service and Christine Hodgson, Chair of The Careers & Enterprise Company, for being awarded honours for their services to careers. It’s great to see individuals in the sector being recognised for their achievements. 


Careers education with the new government
We recently met with the Department for Education along with the CDI and The Careers & Enterprise Company. Informally the DfE say that even though it’s early days, it is clear that the Minister, Lord Agnew, is interested in the careers agenda and wants to make progress. The DfE is setting up a round table meeting for him to meet key partners in the near future.

We spoke about the cessation of ESF and the need for careers support to be a significant element of the new Prosperity Fund. The DfE were in agreement and said they would push this. They will be asking for more funding for careers as part of the Annual Spending Review for 2021/22 and we asked them to review the focus of the NCOP budget and whether the resource that Jobcentre Plus put into schools could be used in a better way. The DfE like the virtual wallet model. 

We encouraged the DfE to get Lord Agnew to ‘talk up’ careers work and the contribution made to social mobility and economic productivity. It would also be helpful if Ofsted would talk about the focus on careers in the inspections they are undertaking. 

On adult careers guidance we lobbied the DfE to build on the good work of the National Careers Service in the development of the National Retraining Service; suggesting that we would be very keen to help develop a National Careers Strategy for adults with the new Government. 

The Sharing Prosperity Fighting Fund
ERSA has been lobbying for a replacement of the European Social Fund. Having launched the UKSPF Sharing Prosperity Report n November and promoting it during the election period, ERSA is asking supporters to donate to further its campaign work. Read more and donate.
Task group information
Our position paper developed by the personal guidance task group is now available online on our website. Please share the paper with your networks.
 
Look out for our next position paper on employer and community engagement which is currently in development. 
News from across the sector
Proportion of young people in a Saturday jobs halves in 20 years – The Guardian

Revealed: global best and worst at 21st century skills – TES

UK climbs global education rankings but teenagers amongst least satisfied with lives – Independent

LGA: Devolve all skills and apprenticeship funding – TES

Millions of people risk being unemployed or in unsuitable jobs by 2030 – Independent

FE is ‘ticking time bomb’ says college chief – FE Week
Information, consultations and resources
Nesta automation project
Nesta are looking for research participants to interview about automation. They are working with DfE on the national retraining service so this is a good opportunity to showcase work with adult clients. Nesta are looking for people who have either lost jobs to automation or work in industries at risk of being automated, and are particularly interested in hearing from men and people of colour. Research will involve a 20 minute phone call, after which experiences will be written up in an article to be hosted on the Nesta site. For more details or to find out more, contact Emily Reynolds on: emilyoliviareynolds@gmail.com.

Meaningful encounters with the world of work
As coined by Gatsby, it is now widely accepted that encounters with the world of work are vitally important for all young people. A new toolkit from Education and Employers looks at what this means in detail to allow for effective career provision planning.

Exploring worklessness
A new briefing note from the Resolution Foundation – Never Ever – explores the increase in people who have never had a paid job; currently 8.2% of the UK population. The report suggests that earning whilst studying should be encouraged for a healthy labour market. 
Conferences, events and training
IEP Summit – 5th March, London 
The Institute of Employability Professionals Summit 2020 is based on the future of work and covers the emerging labour market and associated delivery challenges. More info and book here.

Free Quality in Careers Standard events
Interested in achieving the Quality in Careers Standard? Find out more via three free events in March. Hear from schools and colleges who have achieved the standard – events taking place in Newcastle, Birmingham and Bristol

National career guidance shows 2020
The National Career Guidance Shows are the only free to attend series of conventions for people passionate about careers and will arm visitors with the resources necessary to support and prepare young people and other job seekers, so that they can make a smooth transition from education, training or unemployment into working life. Visit for free – book your place now.
Ex-Charity Worker Convicted of Giving Unlawful Immigration Advice
January 17, 2020
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London City Associates Director, Alexandra Zernova to pay £5,500 after pleading guilty to providing unlawful immigration advice.

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Alexandra Zernova, sole Director of London City Associates and former employee of charity Solicitors International Human Rights Group, (SIHRG), appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday 13 January for sentencing following a successful prosecution brought by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).

Ms Zernova of London, had pleaded guilty on 13 January 2020 to seven charges of providing unlawful immigration advice through her company London City Associates. At sentencing she was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £2,000 costs.

The offences occurred whilst Ms Zernova was working as an education and training officer at SIHRG. Following Ms Zernova’s departure from SIHRG, the charity became aware she had been providing illegal immigration advice and alerted the OISC.

Upon sentencing the Magistrate said:

“You knew that you were not to provide these services. That is for good reason…Those who seek immigration services are often the most vulnerable. You know about these things as you trained in this, you are trained about clients, about their vulnerabilities and about the duty on us as a profession to abide by the highest standards of ethics towards our clients. You did not do that.

“The offences are aggravated by it being over a number of years with several distinct clients. There is no guidance on sentencing for such an offence. I have noted the aggravating features as I see them, but also the fact that you have cooperated as far as I can tell, and your guilty plea at the earliest opportunity. I will deal with you by way of a fine. This is the first time I do so with one of these cases. I take these offences seriously, as it undermines the legal protections in this country.”

John Tuckett, OISC Commissioner said:

“Immigration services are regulated to protect some of the most vulnerable in our society and to ensure people are getting the advice they need. This is why all immigration advisers must be registered by the OISC or be a qualified lawyer to ensure they meet standards in knowledge and ethics.

“We are pleased with today’s result, and that we have been able to bring forward another successful prosecution. However the length of time Ms Zernova was able to operate illegally reinforces the importance of people or organisations like the SIHRG coming forward and reporting knowledge of poor or illegal immigration advice to the OISC.”

How to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile to Get More Job Offers
January 17, 2020
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The following by Pete Davies the senior director of Consumer Products at LinkedIn may be of interest to your clients.

Image result for linkedin logo

Not all roads lead to the perfect career. That’s why it’s called a career journey, with twists and turns and likely many lessons learned along the way. How you embraced the journey is what matters to potential employers: the skill sets you’ve developed, how you’ve navigated change and overcome challenges.

Your LinkedIn profile serves as a digital and visual representation of this journey and your unique personal brand. Capturing your professional experience in one place helps you best represent yourself and tell your story. Your LinkedIn profile can be your ticket to a variety of new opportunities like partnerships, jobs, volunteering, or new business.

It’s always a good time to think about how you can spruce up your LinkedIn profile. Here are a few suggestions to make it shine.

TELL THE WORLD WHO YOU ARE AND WHERE YOU WANT TO GO

It sounds simple, but start with your profile photo. Profiles with a photo get seen 21 times more often than those without. Your profile photo should be professional yet approachable, giving people a true sense of your personality. And, don’t forget to add a background cover photo that supports it and works with the story you are sharing about yourself.

Equally important is your summary. Your summary is the first section people visit to read about you when visiting your profile, and it’s worth taking a little extra time to capture your professional strengths and unique capabilities. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself though. Try to sum up your experience in about 40 words, and think about keywords relevant to future job opportunities to help you be found.

Recommendations from professors, alumni, managers, colleagues, and even direct reports help validate what you’re saying about yourself and helps people understand a little more about what you’re like to work with. Whether you’ve been working for a few days or a few decades, don’t be afraid to ask for one and perhaps offer one in exchange.

Finally, location, location, location. Adding your home-base city makes you up to 23 times more discoverable in searches, making it even easier for you to be connected to your next opportunity or to be found by an old friend or colleague.

HIGHLIGHT YOUR EXPERTISE

Keeping your experience up to date pays off. Not surprisingly, professionals who have their current position listed on their profile are discovered up to 16 times more in recruiter searches. And if you’re not in a current position, don’t worry. Consider instead adding something about the industry or job you’re pursuing, for example “seeking opportunities in accounting.”

Also, don’t overlook crafting summaries for each job you’ve had in your experience section. This gives your audience more insight into your skills and background. Write a crisp summary or two-to-three bulleted sentences that share your strengths and key achievements in that position.

Eighty-seven percent of recruiters agree the skills a candidate lists are crucial as they vet them. Skill Assessments allows you to represent your expertise and show your strengths. Our data shows that people who complete LinkedIn Skill Assessments are up to 30% more likely to get hired.

Another way to demonstrate your expertise and build relationships with your connections is by sharing news, ideas, and perspectives to the feed and to help others stay informed. This is a great way to stay engaged with your network, for others to learn more about you, and an easy way to keep your profile up to date, as the posts you share can also be found in the activity section of your profile.

TELL THE LINKEDIN COMMUNITY WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH

Your profile is the perfect place to signal your needs to your professional community. Let people know what you want. Are you interested in a new job or volunteer opportunity? Need a recommendation on service providers? A service provider yourself, and want to grow your business? Signalling your intent through your profile will help you grow professionally.

If you’re looking for a new job opportunity, you can simply activate the Open to Job Opportunities feature when you update your profile. You can choose whether all LinkedIn members can see your status–or only recruiters searching to fill positions in which you may be interested. Plus, you can select the specific titles and job locations you’re targeting, allowing your profile page to work behind-the-scenes to help you land your dream job.

In 2019, we made it easier for freelancers, service providers, and entrepreneurs to list their services on their profile and let the LinkedIn community know they’re open for business and discoverable from a LinkedIn search. More than 130,000 service providers and freelancers have opted in to this feature to grow their business since we rolled it out globally.

Your profile is the gateway to your professional career success, so let the world know what makes you special. By making these updates to your LinkedIn profile now, you’ll be showcasing the very best of you and your strengths. It’s a small investment you can make now to prepare your career for the next decade and beyond.

The Challenges of Apprenticeship Expansion in England, the USA and Australia
January 17, 2020
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New research by Dr Johann Fortwengel and Professor Howard Gospel of King’s Business School with Dr Phillip Toner of the University of Sydney, Australia, has highlighted the difficulties of expanding apprenticeship numbers, especially in industries with little historical experience of this form of training.

Professor Howard Gospel, Emeritus Professor of Management, King’s Business School
Professor Howard Gospel, Emeritus Professor of Management, King’s Business School

The team also found that successful attempts to renew apprenticeships involved efforts to synchronise government-led and employer-led initiatives, and engaged employer associations, unions and others. This kind of coordination was more likely to lead to a sustained increase in apprentice starts; simply providing funding and leaving employers and market forces to determine the types and structure of programmes available was less effective.

Professor Howard Gospel, Emeritus Professor of Management said:

“Apprenticeships were a theme in the UK election; the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour all talked about investment in apprenticeships.  But expanding the number of apprenticeships and ensuring they are valued by employers is challenging to get right.

“Our research shows that while both England and Australia have delivered increases in apprentice numbers since the 1990s, that growth faltered when expansion into new industries led to doubts over quality and confusion over what apprenticeships should really deliver.” 

Dr Johann Fortwengel

Dr Johann Fortwengel, Senior Lecturer in International Management, adds:

“These experiences are important lessons for the US, where efforts to increase apprenticeships have so far been proportionally smaller. Expansion into new areas has been on the agenda since the Obama administration, but with little real progress to date.”

The researchers tracked efforts in England, Australia and the US to revive apprenticeships as a solution to skills shortages, youth unemployment, and broader challenges like rising income inequality. Historically, these ‘Anglo-Saxon’ economies  have lacked effective support for industry-wide apprenticeship training schemes. Also, compared to countries, such as Germany or Switzerland, demand has historically been limited, with a large proportion of young adults choosing the university route over an apprenticeship.

UK

In England* apprenticeship starts grew by 400 per cent from 1996 to 2017, especially from the late 2000s onwards. Growth was driven by changes in the definition of apprenticeship and by the extension of apprenticeships beyond construction and engineering into non-trade specialisms, especially from the mid 2000s onwards.

Expansion into the service sector has also prompted two major dips:

  1. First post 2010 in the face of doubts over standards in new non-traditional training programmes for sectors like hospitality and retail, and
  2. Second since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in Spring 2017.

Howard Gospel says: “There are multiple reasons for disenchantment with the apprenticeship levy. Some employers see it as too complex, or excessively interventionist. Other commentators are concerned that it is funding already well qualified existing employees on degree and other higher qualifications. To date the initiative hasn’t delivered on some high hopes for what it might achieve.”

Australia

By comparison with England, Australia grew its number of apprenticeships relatively steadily from 60,000 in 1995 to 377,000 in 2012, with consistent employer and bipartisan political support.  Extension of apprentice-type training to new service sector occupations accounted for over 80 per cent of the increase.

Publicly funded non-profit Group Training Organisations (GTOs), often linked to employer associations and unions played an important part in the growth, and were successful in recruiting smaller employers to apprentice schemes, which often lack the financial and staff resources to support their own training program. A relatively strong technical college system also helps in Australia. However, funding was cut back sharply due to escalating government expenditures and concern at declining quality, prompting a collapse in trainee led by non-trade apprenticeships.

”Support for the traditional apprenticeship model remains strong in Australia in government, and among employers and unions. It continues to be an important institution for young people seeking to enter the labour market and for older people looking for a skilled, better paid job,” says Dr Phillip Toner.  

“However, the extension of this model into new occupations, mostly in the service sector such as lower-skilled hospitality, sales, security guards and clerical work has been largely unsuccessful. Employer support for extending apprenticeships to these roles was only partly founded on real labour market need, and more substantially down to generous government employment subsidies. This fact has been revealed by the sustained collapse in this type of training over the last 6 years following the cessation of the subsidies.’’ 

USA

In the US, President Obama re-visited President Clinton’s relatively unsuccessful efforts to revive apprenticeships in the 1990s and also sought to target non-traditional sectors such as ICT and health. The policy of expanding apprenticeships has continued under President Trump, with the explicit intention of encouraging greater involvement of industry and to promote apprenticeship in new areas.

However, to date, little progress has been made.   

     Dr Johann Fortwengel continued:

“between 1998 to 2017, there was a 65 per cent in apprentice starts in the US. However, as far as we can see from Department of Labor figures, extension into new sectors and occupations has been limited.  Given our findings, that may be a blessing in disguise: there is an opportunity to reflect on what might work before ploughing resources into this effort.”

*Because of differences in apprenticeship systems and data across the jurisdictions of the UK, only England is examined here. 

Cabinet Reshuffle Should Reinstate Minister of State for Skills, Apprenticeships and Further Education

The FAB Chair, Paul Eeles, has written to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, calling on him to use his next Cabinet reshuffle to reinstate a Minister of State for Skills, Apprenticeships and Further Education:

Paul Eeles, Chair od The Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB)

I wanted to underline the Federation of Awarding Bodies support for your ambition of the United Kingdom becoming a world leader in education and science, particularly as we leave the European Union.

Our members – awarding bodies and examination boards – already provide millions of learners in the UK and overseas with the qualifications and skills to succeed. Ultimately, the work of our members is about growing the human capital potential of the whole country – north, south, east and west.

A significant number of our members also successfully help to export the British brand of education and well respected qualifications overseas. In many ways, we are world-leaders already.

As you contemplate a government reshuffle and potentially make some machinery of government changes, there are some matters I wanted to raise with you directly.

The first thing I wanted to highlight is how impressed we have been with the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, and the fact he has been one of the most engaged cabinet ministers, particularly in relation to improving technical and further education.

That said, one of the casualties of your last reshuffle was to remove the Minister of State post for Skills and Apprenticeships from the Department for Education. In practice, however, this has meant the further education sector has lost a daily champion and reformer with whom we could effectively engage. This is in stark contrast to schools and universities who do have dedicated ministers.

Given your renewed focus, as a Government, in ensuring that the economic and social opportunities of the nation are developed more evenly across the country, can I encourage you to appoint a dedicated minister with a laser like brief, who is ruthlessly focussed on improving productivity, apprenticeships, skills and FE? 

As you are aware, the UK has a major productivity gap with other G7 countries. Social mobility has stalled in recent years. And in England, we are facing a real challenge to ensure programmes like the Apprenticeship Levy are meeting the needs of employers and young people. 

The resumption of a dedicated FE minister would really help to take your ambitious agenda forward.

Paul Eeles, Chair od The Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB)

ESFA Update: 15 January 2020

Latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers.

Documents

ESFA Update further education: 15 January 2020

ESFA Update academies: 15 January 2020

ESFA Update local authorities: 15 January 2020

Details
Items for further education
Actionadult education budget (AEB) devolution, learner eligibility using postcode data
Informationhow to express an interest to deliver T Levels from 2022 to 2023
Informationthe apprenticeship service is now open for small and medium employers
Informationthe apprenticeship technical funding guide has been updated
Informationqualification achievement rates (QAR)
Informationthe next stage of the Fire It Up apprenticeships campaign is now live
Informationconsultation on lifting the inspection exemption for outstanding schools, colleges and other organisations
Your feedbackwe would welcome your feedback on a new online form to report extremism concerns
Items for academies
Reminderthe academies accounts return deadline is Monday 20 January 2020
Informationacademy allocation statements timeline
Informationhow to express an interest to deliver T Levels from 2022 to 2023
Informationfunding for professional development for governors, trustees and trust board clerks
Informationconsultation on lifting the inspection exemption for outstanding schools, colleges and other organisations
InformationQuality in Careers Standard events
Your feedbackwe would welcome your feedback on a new online form to report extremism concerns
Items for local authorities
Actionadult education budget (AEB) devolution, learner eligibility using postcode data
Informationhow to express an interest to deliver T Levels from 2022 to 2023
Informationqualification achievement rates (QAR)
Informationconsultation on lifting the inspection exemption for outstanding schools, colleges and other organisations
Informationthe apprenticeship technical funding guide has been updated
InformationQuality in Careers Standard events
Your feedbackwe would welcome your feedback on a new online form to report extremism concerns

Published 15 January 2020

Thousands of SMEs Denied Chance to Recruit Apprentices
January 16, 2020
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The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has found training providers are having to turn away smaller businesses seeking to recruit apprentices.

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A growing shortage of funding from the £2.8 billion apprenticeship levy has been attributed to the shortfall in support for SMEs. The AELP found that, on average, apprenticeship providers are turning down approaches from 40 SMEs each.

The research also revealed that 29% of providers with a government contract to train apprentices for SMEs have reduced recruitment. According to the AELP 39% of these providers have stopped or significantly reduced recruitment. 

AELP chief executive Mark Dawe told HR magazine: “What’s doubly frustrating about the restriction on the number of new apprenticeship opportunities available is that the government has just issued official data showing that nine out of 10 apprentices stay in sustained employment and many of them who progress end up earning very good wages. 

“As Downing Street and the chancellor have issued a mandate to ministers to concentrate spending money on what actually works, what further evidence does the government need to invest more in apprenticeships? 

“The fact that the levy is running short of funding shows how popular apprenticeships are and that the levy should be kept. But it’s totally unacceptable for both small businesses and young people that so many of them can’t start apprenticeships because of failures in how the levy funding system works, and this is why it needs reform.” 

One suggestion for reform is a restoration of the £1.5 billion apprenticeship budget that was available to SMEs before the levy was introduced in April 2017. The AELP has also proposed an increase in the levy. 

Dawe added: “Brexit requires us to meet employers’ skills needs by training more home-grown talent, but many training providers have given up ‘selling’ apprenticeships to SMEs when the lack of funding means that there’s no point in doing so. In the meantime there’s a big government advertising campaign telling employers that support is still available. 

“The prime minister promised in July that he would ‘properly fund’ apprenticeships and the education secretary has said that the programme’s funding would be a matter for the Spending Review. As the clock ticks thousands of young people are hearing about the success stories of their peers who have been on an apprenticeship and they can’t understand why the same opportunities aren’t available for them.”

ViewPoint: Why Careers Education Needs International Inspiration
January 15, 2020
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By Ruth Gilbert, group education director at Manor Property Group and an honorary fellow at UCL Institute of Education.

When creating something new for the UK, it makes sense to take a look at the wider world to get a better understanding of what’s already out there and what’s working internationally.

This approach of considering best practice is not rocket science by any means and, in fact, it potentially saves a huge amount of effort. Why start from scratch to come up with new ideas when there are tried-and-tested techniques/products that would potentially work (albeit with some adaptations) for your particular market and audience?

Careers education

Careers education is clearly something that we haven’t got quite right in this country. A number of reasons can be cited for this – not enough funding, accountability, lack of prominence in the national curriculum…the list goes on. But the fact remains that high-quality careers education is crucial if young people are to be given the best possible chance to successfully progress from school/college/university into great jobs.

We have seen some investment in careers education projects for primary schools and funding for virtual career hubs to coordinate training and support employer brokering services. But, culturally, the emphasis in the UK has been on public sector leadership of employer engagement.

Many countries around the world have taken a very different approach to careers education, with encouraging results. So, perhaps it is time to look further afield and take inspiration from the international community. 

Take Finland – a European country with comparable economic drivers and social context to the UK. Much greater resource is dedicated to careers education there, and the subject is a compulsory element of the curriculum. It comprises around 76 hours of scheduled “careers ed” activities in the students’ timetables during the equivalent of Years 7-9. In addition, there is an entitlement for individual and group guidance together with compulsory work experience periods. And for younger children in Finland (grades 1-6), careers guidance is embedded within the classroom.

Expert guidance

Crucially, students are also entitled to expert careers guidance at school one year after completing upper secondary level if they have not been enrolled in further education. For those young people starting vocational education and training programmes (VET) there is one compulsory ECVET module on the development of lifelong career management skills. Each student is entitled to a customised learning plan – supporting them to consider their post-education plans.

Finland and its neighbour Norway are also leading the way with physical careers guidance centres (Ohjaamo centres) – which are also found in Australia. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s international conference in June referenced this work, highlighting the benefit of these centres to promote active citizenship, inclusion and transition to employment. They are cross-sectoral, providing a range of outreach services to support young people, including: employment and youth services; career practitioners; social/health professionals; and a range of charities.

This model is similar to the vision of Manor Property Group, which is developing a network of careers hubs. The first of these Qdos Career Hubs is planned to serve East Yorkshire, where youth unemployment has been rising, major skills shortages are evident and apprenticeship take-up is very low.

And, as is evident from Finland’s experience, the establishment of one-stop guidance centres is having a positive impact, with respondents feeling they were better involved in decision making about their own lives. This is exactly what Manor expects to achieve with our project – benefiting the local, regional and national economy and skills market.

Industry involvement

Another key theme, which comes through strongly when looking at Finland’s successful implementation of careers guidance, is the involvement of industry. Privatisation of services is always a contentious point in the UK, but is a common feature of careers guidance services in other countries. Over the past 10 years in Finland, the role of the private sector has increased, introducing more varied and flexible services. These have included online careers information and self-assessment tools as well as national projects to support continuous learning.

And in Canada, there has been substantial commercial investment from industry into career development. It is widely accepted that that industry-led education in Canada is progressive – offering much best practice for the UK to take note of. An example of this is RBC, Canada’s largest bank, committing to investing CA$500 million (£288 million) over 10 years in the Future Launch programme to help young people succeed in the emergent labour market. 

We have seen employability online programmes from major banks and financial institutions in the UK but we don’t culturally promote industry engagement in leadership of pioneering public services. Via its network of Qdos Career Hubs, Manor is keen to demonstrate how smaller businesses in the UK can create a legacy for their communities, supporting growth of the economy and young people, hand in hand.

Crucially, careers guidance gives young people a broader view of the opportunities available to them. It also offers employers the chance to consider their future skills needs and engage with the very audience they need to support these needs. A win-win.

Learning lessons from abroad reflects the necessity of taking an international view on these issues. We are operating in a global digital economy and this means opening young people’s eyes to how industry is working – now and in the future, here and abroad.