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Young Care Leavers are Missing Out on Apprenticeship Opportunities
December 9, 2019
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Young care leavers are missing out on apprenticeship opportunities as experts warned they are not receiving adequate support to transition into sustainable careers.

The Children’s Society and Catch 22 are calling for more changes to the apprenticeship levy to encourage this underserved group into work and help care leavers see apprenticeships as a financially viable opportunity.

The latest Department for Education figures show 39 per cent of care leavers aged 19-21 are not in employment, education or training, compared to 12 per cent of those in the same age group.

At the launch event yesterday the charities launched their new Bright Light programme.

The pilot, funded by The Clothworkers’ Foundation, will offer holistic and tailored support to London’s young care leavers to help them into apprenticeships, employment or further education.

Emma Allix, Catch22’s Programme Manager for Bright Light, says:

“It is vital that employers are understanding of the personal barriers these young people face, and that they offer effective long-term support. We all have a responsibility to be better corporate parents to care leavers, and with the additional help with transport costs, training, or just improving access, we can change these young peoples’ lives. By offering this support to these young people, employers will see loyal, motivated employees, likely to build a long-term career with their organisation.

“We want those who contribute to the apprenticeship levy to dedicate half their expenditure to those under 30. It is equally important that employers are supported and encouraged to take on apprentices too.”

Peter Grigg, External Affairs Director at The Children’s Society, adds: 

“We know through our work that care leavers face a myriad of issues when looking to their future. They have not had the parental guidance needed to navigate the world of job hunting nor will they have the financial backing to take up an apprenticeship that pays just £3.30 per hour. This low wage is simply not enough to live on. That is why we are calling on the first year apprenticeship rate to be brought in line with under 18 minimum wage. This additional money would remove some of the financial barriers and hopefully reduce the disproportionate number of care leavers not in education, employment or training.”

Bright Light will enable care leavers to achieve the best possible outcomes when transitioning from care into adulthood and employment. The course will provide one to one support for up to 18 months. Career coaches will help each individual build their confidence, to understand employer expectations, interview techniques, budgeting, the importance of time management and more.

Loveth Benson, a 22 year old from East London, is one of Bright Light’s first participants. Loveth is currently at university but was signposted to the course because of the struggles she has faced in trying to find a job.

Loveth explained:

“I was in care at 15 and lived with foster families, then at 17 I was living in semi-supported housing, which was quite regulated, so I wasn’t allowed to get a part-time job. When I could get a job, I didn’t know what to put on my CV, or how to even do one. I didn’t know how to write a personal statement or a cover letter, and there was no one to ask for help… no parents. This course is helping me to find out more about these things.”

Loveth hopes being part of Bright Light will help her achieve her dream career:

“I really want to be a social worker. Being in care, I met lots of young people with different issues and backgrounds, but all of them had no one they could ask for help… I want to be able to help them. I have only just started the course but we have already looked at jobs that can help me achieve my goals.”

AELP Fears re ESFA Subcontracting Ban
November 19, 2019
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The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has today recommended a new, more “robust approach” to subcontracting in an effort to avoid an outright ban.

Subcontracting in FE, the practice of one provider paying another to deliver the training, has never been far from scandal and controversy. It has already been banned for advanced learner loan funded courses.

AELP fear funding agency considering outright subcontracting ban

In what the AELP describes as a “last chance saloon” for subcontracting apprenticeships and adult education budget funding, its chief executive, Mark Dawe, claims “by incorporating the recommendations in our submission into its rules, the agency can avoid ministers demanding a ban”.

The ESFA announced plans last month for a radical overhaul of its subcontracting rules amid high-profile cases of fraud, while Ofsted has launched research into the practice.

In its submission, the AELP said the “vast majority” of subcontracting is “high quality” and officials must not take a “damagingly blunt” approach to address the behaviours of a small number of providers.

The requirement and expectations of main providers who subcontract out government funding should be “much more robust” in order to ensure integrity.

AELP has produced a checklist of the “minimum expectations” of the main provider, which they say is significantly above and beyond the current ESFA rules and “should be adopted across the sector”.

This includes: acceptable fees, charges and additional services, quality monitoring and quality assurance, MIS, audit and ILR services, and contracting management (read the full report here).

The association says there also needs to be clarity on the “different types of subcontracting and what is and what isn’t a subcontract to help alleviate confusion across the sector, including with employers”.

AELP has used its submission paper to again call again for fees and charges not to exceed 20 per cent of the funding – a recommendation that has been adopted by the Greater London Authority and other mayoral combined authorities with devolved adult education funding.

This maximum cap would “block the profiteering of a small number of providers who commoditise their privileged access to government funding and ensure value for money”.

AELP adds that there should be a clear policy on management fees and charges being only applicable to core funding and not additional funding “designed to support specific groups of learners or to support certain additional needs”.

ESFA should also procure funding from providers that is “continuously subcontracted out on a transitional basis”, the association’s submission said.

“Recent examples of subcontracting malpractice do not justify at all a call for an outright ban on subcontracting in the sector, but a much more robust approach on the part of the ESFA and Ofsted would make a huge difference in stopping further examples occurring,” Dawe (pictured) said.

“Over the last ten years, AELP feels that the ESFA has rather dragged its heels in making the required changes needed in its funding rules to put the issue to bed and we are probably now in the last chance saloon.”

He added: “Let’s have no more prevarication around this issue which has been damaging the sector’s reputation for far too long. Change the rules now.”

Eileen Milner, the chief executive of the ESFA, sent a sector-wide letter last month warning of rule changes to subcontracting and that she will take strong action against any provider that abuses the system.

She said there are currently 11 live investigations into subcontracting, with issues underpinning them ranging in seriousness from “complacency and mismanagement”, through to matters of “deliberate and systematic fraud”.

She revealed the government will review its current subcontracting rules later this year.

Ofsted’s research will mainly look at whether management fees, which have controversially grown to as much as 40 per cent on subcontract values, are having a detrimental impact on learners’ education.

There have been a number of high-profile subcontracting scandals in recent years. The most recent involved Brooklands College and resulted in the ESFA demanding a £20 million clawback.

Famous Apprentices
October 28, 2019
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Did you know these famous people were former apprentices?

Gordon Ramsay started his successful career as a catering apprentice.

David Beckham was an apprentice in the football Youth Training Scheme.

John Frieda began his incredibly successful career as a hairdressing apprentice.

Sir Alex Ferguson started his career as a shipyard apprentice.

Elvis was an apprentice electrician.

Sir Ian McKellan completed a theatre apprenticeship.

Sir Michael Caine started life as a plumbing apprentice.

Stella McCartney began her career as an apprentice with a tailor on the infamous Saville Row.

Karen Millen started her career as an Apprentice, training at the Medway College of Design in Rochester.

Karren Brady became an Advertising Apprentice at Saatchi & Saatchi.

The Social Mobility Impact of #Apprenticeships
October 15, 2019
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There is little doubt that the Apprenticeship sector has been through a turbulent period writes Ben Pike. Many of us leading Apprenticeship businesses have been left managing challenges on all sides.

The shifting sands of policy, funding and the ambiguity caused by the new Standards has left many of us rooted in trying to improve how and what we are delivering.

In the midst of this it is easy to stop asking “so what?” This is why the research paper we have just released on the Social Mobility Impact of Apprenticeships is so important to me.

Quite simply, it has been a refreshing opportunity to step back and think again about our imprint.

Data and research like this validates what most of us know and see on a daily basis.

Last year I caught up with a young man who I had first met in 2013 when attending an observation visit with an Assessor.

Nazir came along to our first Apprenticeship Alumni event because he wanted to tell us about the impression his Apprenticeship experience had left on him. From a lad that was just 16 on a level 3 tech programme, Naz progressed through to a level 4 project management programme and then onto a senior project management role at a leading bank. He is also married with 2 children, whose lives have been made better on account of his inspiring and determined efforts leading to an incredible career.

Or there is Roberta, who was our first apprentice to attain GCSE through to degree level qualifications through our Apprenticeships. It was a first too for her family where no-one else has yet been to University. The sense of achievement and the pride are evident in both Roberta and her family. A young woman who is already progressing incredibly successfully in the male dominated world of STEM. A testimony to how Apprenticeships can unlock and power potential.

I love these stories and I am delighted that as well as coming up with a few individual case studies that show the success of exemplar apprentices (I’m sure most providers can do this), we can also show the much broader success and positive impact of Apprenticeship programmes through this report.  

Our research shows that Apprenticeships are unique in that they have no access gap.

Pupils from deprived backgrounds are just as likely to join an Apprenticeship as their less deprived peers, whereas for the most selective universities, deprived pupils are 43% less likely to attend. Of course, there are meaningful variations between different providers and different Apprenticeships.

I was particularly pleased to see that our technical Apprenticeships have 18% more learners from deprived backgrounds than the national average which is critical to developing talent in a much publicised under skilled area of our economy.

Nearly all apprentices report that they had seen beneficial influences on their careers. The majority felt they were better at doing their job and felt satisfied in their job since starting an Apprenticeship. Nationally, approximately half of apprentices at level 2/3 received a pay rise on completing their Apprenticeship.

For QA’s (majority technical and higher level) programmes, 92% of apprentices saw a pay rise. Higher pay is of course a positive outcome in and of itself, but it also recognises that an employee’s productivity, skill set and economic value to the employer and the economy has grown.

There is more we suggest should be done to raise wages whilst apprentices are on programme, there is still lots to be done to address falling achievement rates, but take a step back and the overall picture is a positive one.

Whilst this report finds there is significant variation between programmes and providers, it is clear that Apprenticeships are an outstanding investment in terms of economic return. More importantly, they genuinely do provide a social mobility impact that can be quantified and one which we should all be much more proud of.    

Ben Pike, Managing Director, QA Ltd

September Apprenticeship Parents’ Pack
September 24, 2019
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The September Parents’ Pack is full of useful apprenticeship information,

The edition includes ideas and top tips on where to look for an apprenticeship, an outline of the support your child can expect from their employer, an Apprenticeship Perspective interview with Akeem Graham, a camera trainee and media production apprentice with the BBC, an insight into apprenticeships in the construction industry and much more!

Download a free copy now.

Employees Feel Too Old For Apprenticeships
September 17, 2019
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Many employees would like the opportunity to start an apprenticeship or switch career but are worried they’re too old, according to Jobrapido.

Its research found that more than half (52%) of UK employees would readily embark on an apprenticeship if it could support a career change or move them to a different industry sector.

Of those that wouldn’t embark on an apprenticeship,nearly two-thirds (32%) believe they are too old and that the age limit is between 16 and 24. A quarter (25%) felt that apprenticeships would be a step down given their career experience.

The research also asked employees what the biggest obstacles to making a career change were. Three in 10 (30%) cited family or financial commitments, with a further 17% stating that a lack of confidence and that they would need to change their mindset. Nineteen per cent believed their lack of qualifications prohibits a change while the same proportion said they have no understanding of how to go about switching careers, and 14% said they are put off by the time it takes to retrain.

When asked what could support them to make a change, more than a quarter (26%) stated a change of mindset, followed by investment in training and/or educational qualifications or new skills (17%), support in the form of outside funding or a grant (12%), and government and/or industry support with further initiatives (11%).

CEO of Jobrapido Rob Brouwer said that age should not be a barrier to those looking to start an apprenticeship: “Despite the majority of the UK workforce being open to the possibility of apprenticeships, the vast majority have already ruled this out as they believe there is an age barrier in order to access [them]. The reality is that apprenticeships are open [to people] above the age of 16 and there is no age barrier.”

“Despite the majority of the UK workforce being open to the possibility of apprenticeships, the vast majority have already ruled this out as they believe there is an age barrier in order to access [them]. The reality is that apprenticeships are open [to people] above the age of 16 and there is no age barrier.”

He said that the government should work with education providers to reach out to workers who might consider themselves “too old” to embark on an apprenticeship.

“There has been a big drive in recent years to encourage more apprenticeships in the UK… Yet perception lags behind reality about the criteria and age of apprenticeships. This in turn is preventing more of the UK workforce from capitalising on the opportunities to retrain, acquire new skills and gain confidence in the workplace. All of which lay the right foundation to build an entirely new career,” he said.

“What is needed is an education drive from UK industry, the government, educational establishments and employers as to how anyone over the age of 16 can access and embark on an apprenticeship.”

Brouwer added that on the whole people no longer want a job for life. “We live in an era where a job is no longer a job for life and many could have at least two or even three different careers in their working life. It is not surprising that so many who took part in the research harbour ambitions to change their career path,” he said.

Jobrapido surveyed 1,444 employees who work across different industry sectors including sales, marketing, engineering, transportation, construction and technology in July 2019.

Apprenticeship Levy Failing to Deliver Entry-Level Routes: Resolution Foundation Report
August 30, 2019
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Young people are at risk of missing out as employers prioritise high-level apprenticeships, which mainly go to people already in work, according to the Resolution Foundation.

Its report found that there has been a significant increase in the number of higher-level apprenticeship starts, with the number of starts at Level 4 and above (higher education equivalent) rising from 19,800 in 2014/15 to 48,200 in 2017/18. Additionally, in the first three quarters of 2018/19 there were 19,000 starts at Levels 6 and 7 (degree or Master’s degree equivalent).

Over-25s accounted for 59% of the growth in these higher-level programmes, and in 2018/19 they accounted for 44% of all apprenticeship starts, and 65% of all higher-level starts.

Starts at these higher levels are not typically undertaken by those at the beginning of their careers, the think tank said, raising concerns that the levy system is not delivering on its objective of providing young people with a high-quality route into a career.

In a survey conducted by the Department for Education published in 2017, 83% of all higher-level apprentices aged 25 and over said they were employed by the same firm prior to beginning their apprenticeship. In a follow-up survey published in 2018 62% of apprentices of all ages and levels said they were employed by the same firm prior to beginning their apprenticeship.

But the think tank said that a drop in low-quality low-paid apprenticeships should nonetheless be welcomed.

It found that there were 25% fewer apprenticeship starts in 2017/18 than in 2014/15, driven by a notable fall of 45% in lower-level apprenticeships. Retail apprenticeship starts at Levels 2 and 3 accounted for 118% of all starts in 2014/15, despite the fact that only 9% of the labour force were employed in non-managerial retail roles. These lower-level programmes also often involved lower-than-average rates of work-related training, with more than a quarter (26%) of apprentices in these areas unaware that they were actually undertaking an apprenticeship.

You can access the full report by following the link below.

https://bit.ly/2PhdSsx

Kathleen Henehan, research and policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, confirmed that the increase in high-quality apprenticeships is a positive development.

“Rather than being a cause for concern, the recent drop in apprenticeship starts has been driven by a welcome fall in many low-value apprenticeship programmes. While the controversial apprenticeship levy has been blamed, the fall has been driven by stronger regulations to ensure apprenticeship quality,” she said.

Henehan added that policymakers should now focus on delivering more apprenticeships for new starters and prioritising genuine learning and skills development.

“In contrast a marked rise in the number of apprenticeship starts at higher levels has been influenced by the introduction of the levy in 2017, with employers using the system to upskill established employees rather than offering enough young people and new starters a route to a lasting career,” she said.

“Policymakers should stick to their guns on quality improvements but ensure apprenticeships deliver their core purpose by requiring firms to spend half of their apprenticeship funding on new starters and half on workers aged under 30. This won’t be uncontroversial but building a high-quality clear route to skills and a good career is crucial to our country’s future.”

Apprenticeship Funding Rules
July 30, 2019
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The ESFA had published the 2019 to 2020 apprenticeship funding rules following feedback from the clarification exercise.

The changes they have made are set out in the summary of changes which can be found using the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apprenticeship-funding-rules) gov.uk/guidance/appre…

Apprenticeships: July Parents’ Pack
July 17, 2019
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The new July Parents Pack is here and includes tips on how to help your child maximise their summer, parent FAQs, how to prepare for results day, apprentice article on mental health support, apprenticeships with Travis Perkins and so much more! 

ESFA Calls for Help to Develop the Apprenticeship Service
June 17, 2019
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ESFA has opened an Expressions of Interest (EOI) for small and medium sized apprenticeship employers and supporting training providers to help develop the apprenticeship service

The Education and Skills funding Agency (ESFA) has opened an Expressions of Interest (EOI) for small and medium sized employers and supporting training providers that currently have a non-levy contract to help the ESFA in its initial phase, to test the system functionality of the apprenticeship service for employers who do not pay the Levy.

Small and medium sized employers that do not pay the Apprenticeship Levy, as well as their supporting training providers, can now express their interest to help ESFA shape its services so it meets future needs for all employers. To apply to test the service: Read more