New support for third sector employers hiring apprentices
Apprenticeships produce a highly skilled, motivated and productive workforce. With new Government support available to third sector employers – together with newly-funded new apprenticeships in campaigning, fundraising and volunteer management – they should actively consider celebrating Apprenticeships Week 2012 (6-10 February) by taking on an apprentice.
These were the key messages to employers from third sector organisations who gathered today (8 February) at a special event in central London to hear about the practicalities of how apprenticeships and funding can be accessed through the Youth Contract, the £1 billion Government initiative to provide at least 410,000 unemployed 18 to 24 year olds with work placements from April 2012. Opportunities available include employer incentives, wage subsidies which the Government announced yesterday are available now to smaller third sector employers who have not employed apprentices within the past three years, pre-apprenticeships pathways for young people not immediately ready to prove themselves to employers, and links to the Government’s Work Programme. (See “Notes to editors” for more details.)
Today’s event was jointly organised by Skills – Third Sector, the registered charity working to make it easier for charities and social enterprises to develop their workforce with the skills they need; Fair Train, the third sector’s Group Training Association which helps to fund, recruit and train apprentices, and London Learning Consortium.
Funding for training from the National Apprenticeship Service and Skills Funding Agency for the new apprenticeships – which have been specially developed by Skills – Third Sector in partnership with Fair Train to meet third sector organisations’ needs, will help to make charities and social enterprises more sustainable and improve their chances of developing sustainable income generation.
In his keynote address Simon Waugh, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service saw a need – in the current economic climate – not to look for more cuts, but ways of creating jobs and prosperity. He stressed the cross-party commitment within Government to apprenticeships as a long-term solution, and the real business benefits of taking on apprentices, with proven empirical evidence that doing so increases both productivity and staff retention. He said: “These are really tough times, but there is money available to you: we are here to help you skill and train your people to grow your organisations to make them fit for the future. Please get involved.”
It was also announced at today’s event that further help with apprenticeship wage costs is now available via a new Fair Train bursary fund, accessible when third sector organisations join Fair Train, and with monies allocated by an awards panel chaired by Sir Roy Gardner, chairman of Compass Group PLC.
Attendees at today’s event, held at the north London offices of the Directory of Social Change, heard first hand from third sector employers who have successfully run apprenticeship schemes, and from a young apprentice working in the sector. (Please see “Notes to editors” for more information.) They took part in workshops looking at best practice in properly supporting apprentices to reach their potential, the practicalities of taking on an apprentice fundraiser or volunteer coordinator and how employers could share the costs of employing apprentices.
“There are now some real opportunities for employers in the sector to not only recruit an apprentice but to recruit them on a framework designed specifically to meet the needs of the sector. I urge employers, even in these difficult times, to give real consideration to the chance to benefit their organisation and give an individual an opportunity to build a career,” says Keith Mogford, chief executive of Skills – Third Sector. Further support for skills development by third sector employers is due from Skills – Third Sector later this year, when they plan to launch the new LINKS online, interactive tool. This will enable them to share knowledge, skills and support; search for and access better quality, more relevant and best value learning opportunities and encourage open, transparent competition between providers. (Please see “Notes to editors”.)
“With grant funding becoming less available many organisations are looking to reduce costs, take on more volunteers and improve their capacity to fundraise from other sources. All charities need to look closely at the benefits offered by apprenticeships and indeed the whole Youth Contract,” says Stephen Gardner, chief executive of Fair Train.
Stephen Jeffrey, chief executive of London Learning Consortium (LLC), says: “LLC is pleased to see the UK government invest in our employer community and young people. We look forward to supporting the implementation of this policy.”
Today’s event coincided with attendance by Keith Mogford, Stephen Gardner and Stephen Jeffrey at a ministerial breakfast where Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd MP; Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning John Hayes MP, and Minister for Employment the Rt. Hon. Chris Grayling MP explained the offers available under the Youth Contract, listened to views on their practical implementations and gave assurances about their suitability, availability and accessibility for third sector organisations.
- Photos from today’s event are available upon request.
Notes to editors
- Founded in October 2008, Skills – Third Sector is working to identify and address skills gaps and shortages for charities, voluntary groups, social enterprises and cooperatives. It is working with Sector Skills Councils to open up learning opportunities for voluntary sector paid staff and volunteers, and is ensuring the sector's needs are properly considered and addressed in the design and development of national occupational standards, qualifications and apprenticeships. The Office of Civil Society (OCS) in the Cabinet Office and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) are providing initial funding for Skills – Third Sector.For more general information about Skills – Third Sector and its work, please visit: www.skills-thirdsector.org.uk
- Fair Train is the employer led Group Training Association of the third sector, formed in 2010 and is working to increase the number of apprenticeship opportunities available to young people across the sector and to support third sector employers to be able to deliver apprenticeships. As an employer led membership organisation, Fair Train has been successful in increasing the profile of third sector employers in the arena of apprenticeships and is supported by the National Apprenticeship Service. Fair Train is coordinating the delivery of the third sector frameworks. For more information about Fair Train and its work, please visit: www.fairtrain.org
- London Learning Consortium is a Community Interest Company that works for the benefit of communities and business across London. LLC is a mainstream Skills Funding Agency (SFA) provider delivering a range of services to learners, employers and employees across London. Our Membership is drawn from Voluntary and Community Sector learning providers and other learning and skills delivery partnerships. Our Members represent the most disadvantaged groups in the region and deliver services in a holistic manner providing a bespoke package of learning, skills and support within a transitional framework. For more information visit www.londonlc.org.uk
- For more information about Apprenticeships Week 2012, please visit: www.apprenticeships.org.uk/Awards/Apprenticeship-Week-2012.aspx
- For more information about the Youth Contract, please visit: www.dwp.gov.uk/youth-contract/
- The Work Programme provides tailored support for claimants who need more help to undertake active and effective job seeking. For more information please visit: www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/welfare-reform/the-work-programme/
- For more information about the work of the National Apprenticeships Service, please visit: www.apprenticeships.org.uk
- For more information about the work of the Skills Funding Agency, please visit: www.skillsfundingagency.bis.gov.uk
- For more information about Skills – Third Sector’s forthcoming LINKS tool, please visit: www.skills-thirdsector.org.uk/qualifications_learning/what_is_links/
- For more information the Directory of Social Change, please visit: www.dsc.org.uk/
Based in Kent, Enterprising Opportunities CIC is a community interest company dedicated to strengthening local communities through a number of support services and partnerships. It employs around 300 people, mainly in the social care and training sectors, and has recently formed the UK Skills Partnership, a consortium of work-based skills providers to deliver training across a number of sectors in the UK.
Enterprising Opportunities is committed to helping people back into work. Following success with the Future Jobs Fund in 2011, it has been testing apprenticeships in different areas over the last couple of years; is now building apprenticeships into its employment strategy, and has set a target to make apprentices 5% of its workforce by the middle of 2012.
The benefits Enterprising Opportunities has experienced from employing apprentices have included value for money and effective succession planning – as the majority of its apprentices have stayed on and become permanent members of staff. As it looks to expand its apprentice numbers, it is working proactively to prevent any drop-out, not just by building in normal employee coaching and mentoring, but via their buddying system for new staff, and by building in ‘taster’ sessions for potential candidates before they formally sign up.
Claudia Sykes, Director of Resources at Enterprising Opportunities says: “I believe apprentices bring real value to an organisation very quickly, and should be part of every company’s employment strategy. This makes good business sense, but it’s also a vital part of creating opportunities for young people and giving them that first, critical step into real work. In the third sector, I believe we also have a responsibility to lead – and if we don’t step up to help build society and create opportunities for the next generation, then who will?”
·Claudia Sykes is available for further media comment.
Stacey Clarke is nearing the end of her apprenticeship in business administration with Enable in Kettering, Northamptonshire. Having completed her GCSEs but finding herself unhappy studying at A/S level, Stacey decided that she wanted to do something different, train, and earn money as well. “I wanted a busy role, one that gave me something to think about both within and outside work,” she says. Stacey found signing up with the National Apprenticeship Service quick and simple, and was surprised at the number of opportunities available locally to her. She quickly obtained interviews for apprenticeships and was delighted when she was offered her current role with Enable. “Studying for my NVQ fits very well into my busy admin role, and I have also done lots of on the job training, for example in customer service, first aid and equality and diversity. It’s improved my skills and confidence greatly,” she says. “In the future I look forward to progressing in my career and learning new skills.”
Registered charity Sparks funds fund life-saving research into conditions affecting babies, children and mothers-to-be. A relatively small charity with an annual income of approximately £4 million and a staff of 30 including many young and enthusiastic graduates, it has relied heavily on volunteer support, creating extended ‘internship’ roles for some volunteers and with others joining as permanent staff members. Sparks has seen this as an area with potential to help them expand their capacity, but has sought to do this in responsible way; avoiding ‘milking’ volunteers. It has recently decided to hire two apprentices to work out of its main office in central London.
Chief executive John Shanley says: "Times are tougher than ever now – not just for job hunters but for employers too. Particularly in the charity sector, where every penny counts and we are answerable to our supporters. So why wouldn’t we get help with training costs when it is readily available to us? It is bordering on irresponsibility not to do so. Through the apprenticeship scheme, we will get fresh, keen talented young people; and they will get a foot on the ladder and the training they need. They can help us; and they can earn while they learn the skills that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. The result will be that more of our money can go into funding the research which is so vital to children’s health.” At today’s event, he asked apprentice Stacey Clarke from Enable (see above) to help mentor his new apprentices.
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