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By Richard Sellick, Chair of the Humber LEP Apprenticeship Working Group

The Humber is continuing to see strong apprenticeship participation despite a national downturn in the number of those signing up.

We recognise the value of our focus in inspiring both young people and adults to recognise apprenticeships as an effective step to a successful career, and we know that businesses continually see the value of apprenticeships and what organisational impact they hold.

The LEP Apprenticeship Working Group encourages people to make the most of the opportunities apprenticeships present, bringing together provider delivery representatives from across the Humber, with the purpose of driving forward the quality and breadth of provision to meet employer demand.

The group provides a forum to share information and good practice, acting as a lobbying group to influence national apprenticeship policy and strategy and emerging vocational provision.

Since 2017, employers with a payroll bill of £3m or more have been paying a 0.5% apprenticeship levy to the Government to fund new apprenticeships. Levy Employers can access the online digital service to fund training for apprentices that work for at least 50 per cent of their time in England, limited to maximum funding bands.

Non-levy paying employers who offer apprenticeships to 16 to 18 year olds can receive 100% of the training costs from government, up to maximum funding bands. Employers do have to pay 5% of apprenticeship training costs for employees aged 19 and over with the government paying the remaining 95%*.

If levy paying companies do not spend the entire allocated levy budget, they are encouraged to support apprenticeships by transferring up to 25% of their apprenticeship funds to other employers, since April 2019.

To support new opportunities and widen participation in apprenticeships, funding transfers apply to any employer, including smaller supply chain employers and Apprenticeship Training Agencies. Businesses who have not handed down their contributions lose this funding, therefore the Humber LEP is keen to ensure levy companies understand how their contributions can go towards helping those in their supply chain.

The Humber LEP has also published a new Employers’ Apprenticeship Toolkit to help small/medium sized businesses in the area further understand how to engage and develop apprentices. This toolkit supports businesses in navigating apprenticeship policy reforms and funding, signposts towards local/national resources and demonstrates how apprenticeships can assist businesses of any size/sector to fill skills gaps and meet growth aspirations.

This Toolkit was developed in partnership with the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP and was developed by the Strategic Development Network (SDN) to provide businesses with insight and tools to help them understand where apprenticeship training could positively impact on business performance.

Apprenticeships are not just for school leavers and young people, there is no upper age limit and if you’re over 16, living in England and not in full-time education then you’re eligible to become an apprentice. For older workers who are thinking about changing career, or progressing into a new job requires development of new knowledge and skills, an apprenticeship is a good way to learn new skills, and continue a lifelong-learning process.

Despite the fact that we are living longer, people are leaving the labour market earlier which has a significant impact for the economy, for businesses and individuals. If everyone worked one year longer GDP could increase by 1%.

Apprenticeships can support career progression too and programmes are available for those at all levels of an organisation. Degree Apprenticeships, which include a full Bachelors or Masters Degree, are aimed at those with the potential to progress. Stacey Chaplin, Policy & Partnerships Manager (Skills), at Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council has recently started a University of Hull, Senior Leader Masters Degree Apprenticeship, which includes an Executive MBA.

Stacey has travelled a varied employment journey by making the most of career opportunities. As well as serving in the British Army and the Police, she has secured managerial roles in all three areas.

Stacey said: “Just two months into the programme and I’m already noticing a significant benefit in the way I think, see and operate at work, particularly in terms of taking a strategic organisation approach. I’m really enjoying the course and it’s a fabulously interesting mix of people, I get to see things from the perspective of colleagues from other sectors that I wouldn’t normally work with.

“The programme empowers you to develop the skills you need to be a success. You’re not thrown in at the deep end and nor are you expected to be an academic. Experience is celebrated – it’s 10 years since I undertook academic study and so I was a little apprehensive at first. You really feel like the lecturers are there for you and are completely committed to getting you where you want to be – to achieve your goals and fulfil your potential. It’s really inspiring.”

Adam Greenwood, Director of Apprenticeships and Skills, at the University of Hull said: “It’s fantastic to see so many employers recognising the value that Degree Apprenticeships can add to their business. We’re really proud of the difference we can make in supporting and empowering those who either didn’t get chance to gain a degree the first time around, or who have changed careers or need further training and qualifications to progress. Stacey is a great example of a new kind of apprentice who brings with them lots of experience and knowledge and who is driven to keep learning.”

For further information on apprenticeships, whether an employer or for anyone interested in becoming an apprentice, view the national apprenticeship service at www.apprenticeships.gov.uk.

*Up to the maximum funding bands