The Humber has seen huge recent economic changes with significant inward investment of the wind and renewables industries, and the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership Employment and Skills Board (ESB) are encouraged by the new opportunities this could bring, especially for businesses wanting to expand and young people looking for work based learning.
As part of the Humber LEP’s commitment to create and support a skilled and productive workforce, and building on the recommendations from the Humber LEP’s Skills Commission http://www.humberlep.org/skills/skills-commission/ the Employment and Skills Board (ESB) continues to drive improvement to raise the skills profile of the region.
One key element of this work is the LEP’s Apprenticeships working group, established to increase overall apprenticeship numbers in the Humber and support businesses looking to recruit apprentices.
Partners involved in the group include a mixture of both employers, membership organisations and education and training providers. The group meets regularly to discuss all issues surrounding apprenticeships at a local level and to create innovative solutions to address the opportunities and challenges. This work includes the analysis of impact of policy announcements, formulating responses to consultations and developing new initiatives. A major focus has been apprenticeship reform and enabling SMEs to receive timely information and access to support to help them through the transition of funding changes.
The group were instrumental in the development of the successful Humber Apprenticeship Support Service (HASS) which operated as an impartial and independent brokerage service to assist employers who were interested in engaging with apprenticeships, supporting training providers to fill apprenticeship vacancies, and educate people as to what apprenticeships are and how to apply.
This pilot project created an additional 157 new apprenticeship jobs within a 14 month period across the Humber. This success had informed the design for the recently procured ESIF funded Humber Apprenticeship Growth Programme project which will continue the positive work the service delivered.
This service underpins the Humber LEP focus on the provision of high quality careers education, advice and guidance to help young people and adults to be better informed about local opportunities and skills choices leading to job growth. The Humber LEP will be releasing information imminently as to who will be delivering the new Apprenticeship Growth Hub, which will provide a free impartial service to SMEs and be able to build on the excellent work the pilot did to promote apprenticeships to people looking for work, as well as school leavers.
This service will operate in addition to the National Apprenticeship Service business advice service, enabling companies to have localised support. The service will provide an understanding of the labour market locally, the training provision available and other employer incentives, such as the Skills Support for the Workforce investment and other Local Authority initiatives. The government’s national apprenticeship reform will see the largest changes in apprenticeships in their history, fundamentally changing how apprenticeships will be funded.
The government believe the levy is designed to put employers first, in encouraging them to invest their resources in the training provider who will deliver the best outcomes for apprenticeships at the right cost for the business and sector, by encouraging businesses to use only approved apprenticeship providers.
Recognising this, the Employment and Skills Board (ESB) has responded to the government consultations, from both from a single-voice LEP approach and via an individual organisational perspective. The LEP has anticipated the amount of local support needed to assist business through this change.
We recognise that there remains concern from apprenticeship providers about the pace and breadth of change and the challenge to ensure growth is achieved through business investment. The LEP Apprenticeship working group will continue to report to the ESB to drive the debate regarding changes, updates, and potential impact in order to provide the best possible support to the Humber region.
Humber LEP partners North Lindsey College and Jacobs are working together to address the workforce shortage in the Engineering sector in the Humber region, working with numerous engineering businesses in and around the South Bank to address this skills gap.
As part of this partnership, apprentices will spend their first year based at the British Steel Training Centre in Scunthorpe. In addition, the apprentices will train alongside other apprentices from Future Biogas, J W Joyce Engineering, Humber Electrical and NHS at the training centre. During the second and third year, the students will work with Jacobs’ skilled workforce, further developing the practical skills they have learned. The fourth year will be spent as an ‘improvership’ year which combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction.
With many major projects in and around the Humber region, there is a growing need for skilled engineers. According to Engineering UK, there will be 2.56 million job openings in engineering companies in the UK by 2022. This need has been brought on by an ageing workforce approaching retirement, the emerging east coast off-shore wind farms, and an increase in development along the Humber.
This is just one example of the excellent partnership work that is happening now in the Humber, to ensure we are prepared and skilled for the economic uplift that is shaping the Energy Estuary, and the work we are doing to communicate the changes to apprenticeships.