5 Steps to develop an Apprenticeship Strategy

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So, your company are paying the Apprenticeship Levy and you are thinking about employing an apprentice or two before the money in your Digital Account expires.  You’ve read the rules, you understand about training providers and external assessors …. But where to start?  Do you just employ a young person, pick an apprenticeship that looks vaguely useful and hope for the best?

As with all new projects, the more you put in to the planning stages, the more likely you are to benefit from it.  Writing an Apprenticeship Strategy can help you identify and communicate across departments what it is you want to achieve and how you are going to get there. Here is where you can pick up some useful tips to get the ball rolling.

Benefits and Challenges

No-one says it was easy to plan an Apprenticeship Strategy.  Apprenticeships add complexity to the planning process because you are employing unskilled recruits who simply have potential.  This means that you have to be thinking about recruiting for skilled people 6 – 12 months BEFORE you actually need those skills.  You also need to think about resources to supervise the apprentice or apprentices and you need to recognise that although you are paying less for the apprentice than a fully qualified member of staff, they will need time off for training – which, of course, needs to be covered too. 

Are you put off yet?!

To get started, it’s important to understand that Apprentices are not a ‘quick fix’ skill solution.  To some extent they go against the fluid mobile workforce model that has become common in today’s UK economy whereby HR identify a specific job role and then appoint someone that more or less meets its key requirements.  We know this model has its problems.  In as many as 50% of cases the employee leaves or is dismissed within a few months. HR starts again.

In contrast, apprentices come with little baggage and employer research shows that apprentices start paying their way as early as 6 months in to their apprenticeships.  They can be easily developed to work in your organisation’s desired way of working. You can tailor their training pathway to exactly match your organisation’s needs.  For many businesses, apprentices are the pathway to senior management and will be taking higher and higher apprenticeship courses as they progress. Out of all your workforce, they are likely to be the people that are going to stay with the company.  The core backbone that will move and develop within your company as it grows.

Apprentices are also a brilliant tool for developing in-house resource.  Think about all the capacity that your company outsources.  Will you be in a better position if you brought this resource in house in the future?  Apprenticeships are a great way to manage that transition.

Finally, apprenticeships are an opportunity to diversify your workforce – to employ talented people that you would normally not have access to.  Put bluntly, if you are constantly recruiting from a pool of trained and experienced staff, you are recruiting from an ever decreasing pool.  Widen that to include people who have potential – then you are suddenly looking at a much larger pool. 

So what does an apprenticeship strategy look like?

Step ONE: Do your research

Writing an apprenticeship strategy is very similar to an HR one and indeed should be embedded in to it.  As with your HR strategy you will be asking yourself, has your organisation got the internal capability to deliver its business goals – the difference being you need to act on it 1 year in advance.

To start off with, identify roles that are likely to need recruitment over the next couple of years?  Ie either new roles or existing roles where you know there is a natural turnover.  Can you restructure departments so that instead of getting another experienced and trained person, you can employ a much cheaper apprentice and spend some of the other resources on the apprentice supervision? 

Think about skills you are currently outsourcing.  Is this something that you will want to bring in-house as your company expands?

Have you got existing staff who are not equipped with the skills that you think they will need for the future of your company?  This is particularly true with tech departments and companies who have constantly changing skill needs.  Remember, you can use money from your Digital Account to start existing staff on to Apprenticeships.  Can you embed your learning and training strategy with your apprenticeship strategy?  Instead of providing a training course, can that learning be mapped on to an existing apprenticeship which would then help you to make savings on your training budget?

Research the apprenticeship frameworks and standards by going on https://findapprenticeshiptraining.sfa.bis.gov.uk/

On this site you can tap in words like ‘IT Network Engineer’ or ‘Accounting’ and search for the apprenticeships on offer.  The site provides information about the apprenticeships within those sectors, the level they are at and a 1 pager on the course content.  This site will also provide you with information about the training providers you can choose from in your area who deliver this apprenticeship.

Once you have established your needs for the future 2 years - the number of apprentices, their courses and the levels that you want them to start at, imagine your company in 4 / 5 years’ time with this cohort of apprentices.  How many more first rung apprentices would you like to take on after that and how many of the existing apprentices will you want to develop further? 

Step TWO: Get Senior Management ‘Buy in’ and Set your Business Goals

Apprenticeships will often engender a cultural shift within the company and for that reason it is important to have senior management ‘buy in’ and to involve them as much as possible in the research process.  Remember, they are likely to be as much in the dark as you are.  Give them a list of the benefits of apprenticeships such as those I have named above and provide them with case studies of how other companies have used apprentices to develop their businesses. 

You can find case studies on https://www.managers.org.uk/insights/news/2017/june/three-case-studies-of-how-the-apprenticeship-levy-will-help-employers

Get them to identify what it is that they want to achieve through apprenticeships - the business benefits and goals.  Pin this down at the beginning so that you can use it to evaluate your progress as your strategy unfolds.

Step THREE: Appoint an Apprenticeship Champion

Companies who are most successful with apprentices have an Apprenticeship Champion (even if they are not called that).  This is someone (perhaps you) who will be the expert within the company and who will communicate the apprenticeship strategy across the company’s departments – helping internal managers to see the benefits of apprenticeships within their teams and supporting them to re-structure around it.  If you have only a few apprentices within the company, it doesn’t have to be a full time job, but it still needs someone to manage the strategy and to ensure that it holds momentum.

Step FOUR: Write an Action Plan

As with all project planning, you need an action plan – it can be quite simple – of who is doing what and when.  By this time you will probably have established which apprenticeships you want and how many new people you want to recruit.  If you want to recruit school leavers, take in to consideration that recruitment is obviously best through the summer when there are plenty of school leavers, though in fact, it is best to alert young people of the opportunities available even before their exams – sometimes as early as October.  Again, its all a process of thinking well in advance. 

You are also likely to be in contact with one or two training providers.  Make sure they are involved in this Action Plan.  Get them to come up with suggestions of actions that you haven’t thought about.  If they are good, they are likely to be able to carry out some of the actions, such as apprenticeship recruitment.  They may be able to provide seminars for your managers so that they are better prepared and know what to expect.  At ELATT we recognise that for some employers, this is the first time they have employed anybody under 25.  Younger people come with their own challenges and benefits. We produce handy guides on how to recruit and get the best out of young members of staff. 

Step FIVE: Evaluate and Develop

.As you instigate the strategy, check to see if it is working towards your desired results. 

Communicate with managers to find out how things can be improved.  How the process might be made easier or more productive.  For instance, perhaps the managers need more support and training in working with this different cohort. 

Praise good practice and disseminate that through the departments in order to ‘big up’ the successes of both the individual apprentices and the teams that have supported them.

Good Luck!

We hope that you have found this blog useful. ELATT are a charity that helps Londoners – old and young – to achieve their potential through top class training.  (We are Ofsted Grade1).  We also help London employers to achieve improved Diversity and Inclusion within their Workforces.  Apprenticeships are just ONE of the areas that we work in. 

If you would like some more help in your Apprenticeship Strategy or you are interested, in ELATT as a charity, please go to either www.elatt.org.uk/apprenticeships or www.elatt.org.uk/employers

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Apprenticeship Levy Breakfast Seminar

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4th July, 8.30 a.m. at techUK

If you’re having trouble spending your Apprenticeship Levy, you are not alone. Only 8% of the Apprenticeship Levy taken from businesses this year has been spent on apprenticeship training.
The downside is, any funding that remains in your National Apprenticeship Service accounts after 24 months (i.e. after 6 April 2019) will expire.
This is why we’ve put together a FREE breakfast seminar designed for people who are responsible for allocating their company’s Apprenticeship Levy.

Join Our Free Breakfast Seminar

By attending the seminar, you will learn about how other companies have engaged with apprenticeships through case studies and how you can embed an apprenticeship strategy into your company’s existing recruitment and training plans.

The Seminar Includes:
1. Brief Overview of Apprenticeships and the Levy
2. Incentives: Government assistance and added incentives to help you get the most out of your Levy
3. Looking ahead: Writing an Apprenticeship Strategy that can be embedded into your existing recruitment, learning and development strategies. Case Studies of different approaches that other employers have used
4. Diverse Workforce: Using apprenticeships to diversify your workforce
5. Logistics: Step by step guide to the process

Date: 4th July 2018
Time: 8.30am-10.00am
Location: techUK, 10 St Bride St, London, EC4A 4AD

As there are only a limited number of spaces available, it’d be great to know if you’d be interested in attending, but in the meantime please don’t hesitate to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like any further information.

More about ELATT

ELATT is an education charity based in Hackney, East London, that has helped disadvantaged Londoners move into technology jobs for more than 30 years.

Watch a brief introduction to ELATT Read our Impact Report

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Why bring Cyber Security in-house?

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In-house Cyber Security could be the best decision you make this year.

Business Are Missing Security Breaches Every Day

Cyber Security is becoming increasingly important as more and more businesses collect increasing amounts of sensitive data about their customers and staff. The media has covered many high profile cyber-attacks in recent years highlighting the lack of corporate strategies for Cyber Security at all levels.

In addition, companies are being tasked to respond to the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) that will be coming into effect in May 2018, which will allow fines of up to 4% annual turnover, if a company is found to not have sufficient active information security risk and contingency plans in place to protect their personal data.

Within this context, Cyber Security skills, which allow companies to put in place fit for purpose and value for money security processes, have become more in demand. Even specialist companies are struggling to keep abreast with the growing Cyber Security skill demand, meaning that salaries for people skilled in Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) rise as the shortage continues.

Should Cyber Security Be Completed In-House or Outsourced?

There’s no question that Cyber Security professionals are sought after. But are we better off hiring and training our own talent or is it more efficient to contract out? Obviously there are pros and cons to each approach, here we consider these in more detail:

Basic Security Knowledge is Lacking Amongst Many Employees
Firstly, every task that an employee completes, as soon as they are on the company system or are handed a laptop or mobile phone, can cause a breach in security. The growing risk of attacks is not new, yet still employees lack even the most basic knowledge of how to prevent attacks and what to do when one occurs. In order to work within the new regulations, many companies will have to start by going back to the basics, the core, to HR and the methods by which staff work.

By bringing your Cyber Security in-house, with a strategy carried out by your own IT team, who are trained to your company’s specific needs, reporting to senior management on a regular basis, you are in a better position to embed a safe Cyber Security structure and culture into the working life of your company.

Companies Are Breaching Their Own Security Without Realising
Secondly, outsourcing many different company functions such as HR or finance, as well as freelancers who work within core teams is becoming increasingly popular. This means that companies are passing sensitive data on to third parties and therefore causing a breach of security that possibly no-one within the company is aware of.

An in-house Cyber Security team or member of staff who is integral to the company and who knows your company inside out is more likely to pick-up on this potential risk rather than an external provider who is not part of your team and does not have day-to-day communication with different departments. Again, this is crucial for not just GDPR compliance but also to protect your company from external cyber-attacks.

Cyber Security Is Not a One-Off Task
Outsourcing can prove to be a cost-effective solution in situations where companies need a specific skillset in order to overcome particular problems or carry out certain tasks. External companies command a much higher hourly rate than an in-house member of staff, but if it is for a ‘one-off’ function then it is cheaper for that company to invest in one-off external help as opposed to investing in a range of skills and software which they are unlikely to use again.

That said; Cyber Security now and in the future is not a ‘one-off’ and occasional task. Cyber Security strategies need to stand at the centre of a company. Senior managers and board members need to understand how Cyber Security sits within their company risk register and how it needs to be embedded into both existing and new products and services.

To do this, organisations need someone on the case who has all the knowledge of the company, who is trustworthy, affordable and available. An in-house member of staff who has all of the above plus a greater personal investment in the company is best placed to deliver this. Every company is unique of course and usually a sensible option is a combination of both.

How ELATT Can Help…

At ELATT, we can help to find you the ideal Apprentice in Cyber Security to ensure your business remains safe and secure when it matters most. For more information, Contact us today.

Enquire NowVisit our Apprenticeships page

 

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Is the Apprenticeship Levy to Blame for the Decline in Apprenticeship Starts?

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Is the Apprenticeship Levy to Blame?

Since the government’s apprenticeship levy came into existence in April 2017, apprenticeship starts have dropped significantly, causing many to question whether the government no longer fully funding apprenticeships is the reason behind it. Change is often good, but in this case, statistics are saying otherwise.

It is possible the drop in apprenticeship starts could be a direct impact of the increased costs of the new scheme, or a result of the on-boarding process becoming more complex? Or is it simply that employers are focusing on quality apprenticeships now that it's their money that’s being spent? Perhaps businesses are simply taking the time to plan ahead, in which case, is this really a bad thing? 

Here we consider why the number of ‘apprenticeship starts’ are dropping and whether it’s a direct impact of the levy being implemented.

Why Have ‘Apprenticeship Starts’ Dropped?

There are always two sides to every story, and generally when figures show a significant drop, people jump to conclusions. So, for employers looking to implement training into their business, it’s essential to consider the possibilities of why this drop in apprenticeship starts has occurred and what happens next.

Looking closer at the stats – it shows that the drop in apprenticeship take up is coming from smaller firms i.e. those that are not paying the levy. For many smaller companies that used to take on apprenticeships – or those that were considering it – the extra cost has put them off, whilst for larger firms who are paying the levy, they are at least maintaining apprenticeship numbers.

Will the Levy Work for Businesses Eventually?

Critics say employers are being deterred from creating apprenticeship posts because of the increased costs and complexity of the new scheme. After all, the government’s target to raise £3 billion a year to create three million apprenticeships by 2020 is still a long way off, proving that the apprenticeship levy isn’t working for businesses yet.

Perhaps Employers Just Need Time to Adjust?

The last year has been a period of significant change, and for employers to adjust, time and patience is required. Many are questioning that the system is in need of a further reform, but some say there are signs that things are turning around as the apprenticeship levy settles in, it’s just been a matter of needing time to adjust.

Many Firms Are Simply Planning Ahead

The growth from the larger levy paying companies has plateaued, which is disappointing i.e. those that already engaged with apprenticeships have continued to do so, whilst those who the government have wanted to lure into the programme, are taking their time to consider their options. Indicating that employers are simply focusing on quality apprenticeships now that it's their money at stake, and require that little more time to plan their next move.

After all, there is a lot to consider. For some companies who tend to recruit from a pool of experienced and ready skilled people, it will mean changing their entire HR process. Decisions need to be made only when workforce gaps appear. This is not something that happens overnight.

Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, Anne Milton says; “It is right that they are taking their time to plan ahead, with two years to spend their levy funds, and maximise the opportunities an apprenticeship can bring for both the learner and employer. Feedback we’ve had shows employers are doing exactly that.”

The Quality of Apprenticeships Should Take Priority

It’s important not to disregard the reasons why the government initially introduced the reforms and levy in the first place; to enhance the quality of apprenticeships and to enable employers better access and control. Let’s also not forget that for businesses expected to pay the levy, i.e., the ones with a wage bill of over £3 million pa, employers can expect to get their money back, plus some, if they commit to training apprenticeships.

There is a strong argument for the government to abandon the starts target and maintain a focus on outcomes and the capability to deliver what learners need today – ie the support they need to undertake training within the work place and the curriculum that will help them develop their career and secure a job.

So, What Happens Now?

Now is the ideal opportunity for employers to fully focus on gaining the access, quality, and control they require to get the skills their business needs. As Anne Milton described, there is a two year window to spend the levy fund, BUT businesses ought to spend their money now because payment on the apprenticeship is collected monthly, not in one go. 

This means for businesses that wait to spend their levy funds, they’re likely to lose out, particularly if they wait for month 24 before spending it. In which case, the figures should really start to grow in the coming months.

Finally, some apprenticeships in certain areas are showing growth. For instance the new Digital Apprenticeship Standards are high quality, and as a result, are proving to be very popular – which indicates that employers want to buy into apprenticeships where they see exceptional added value and a curriculum that fits their workforce skills gaps.

Get in Touch

If you’d like to explore the new Digital Apprenticeships Standards, take a look at our Digital Courses, or Contact Us today for more information.

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How Apprenticeships Can Help to Close the Gender Gap in IT

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How many of your IT department are female?

Are You Struggling to Recruit the Right People for Specialist Digital Roles?

Recent research has pointed to a growing skills crisis throughout the UK’s digital industries; there simply are not enough people with the right skills. Craig Hurring, CEO of Tech Partnership (an employer-led organisation that oversees the skills in the digital sector) reported that the UK needs 138,000 new entrants each year to fill all the specialist digital roles in the UK.

Traditionally, tech firms often recruit from a pool of Computer Science graduates, but according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the UK had only 16,440 Computer Science graduates last year, leaving a shortfall of over 120,000 per annum. As a result, it’s not surprising that 52% of UK tech companies are now reporting hard-to-fill vacancies.

Since only 17% of digital specialist roles are occupied by women, many tech companies who need new young talent are exploring how to double the pool of potential entrants by attracting both women and men to their companies, thus bringing better workforce diversity and improving productivity. One of the key issues is that only 16% of Computer Science graduates are young women.

How Can Businesses Help to Support Women into IT Roles?

In order to close the gender gap and get more talent in to the UK Tech industry, the most obvious solution is to try to persuade more young people, particularly young women to take up a Computer Science degrees. In fact, many forward thinking IT companies are involved in initiatives such as Girls only IT clubs and the ‘People Like Me’ WISE Campaign that use gender specific words and strong role models to encourage girls to consider a future in IT. At this stage, it is all too early to measure the impact, since they are aimed at 14-16 year olds who still have a few years in education before choosing their degree.

Not only is it very difficult for companies involved in these initiatives to quantify a return on their efforts, but the impact can only be measured in at least 3 to 5 years’ time, when young women decide (or don’t decide) to take up a Computer Science degree. There are lots of reasons why young women are disinclined to graduate to Computer Science since these courses have the biggest gap between men and women of all subjects at degree level. As a result, young women are worried about being isolated, and therefore choose other subjects, so the gender gap remains.

Tech companies looking to increase women in to their workforce in 2018 and future years can only either recruit from the very small pool of Computer Science graduates, that may or may not grow in the coming years, or… they can think differently.

Can the New Digital Apprenticeships Resolve your Skill Gap Issues and Diversify your Workforce?

Apprenticeship Standards that have been designed by groups of employers under the banner of Tech Partnership, offer a fast track solution for companies wishing to improve workforce gender equality and increase the number of entrants and scope of talent.

ELATT have seen, year on year, that Digital Apprenticeships can be very attractive to female school leavers in a way that a Computer Science degree is not. Companies that offer Apprenticeships can talk directly to young women and men in words that are specific to both sexes, describing real career opportunities that young people can understand and relate to.

By recruiting non-graduates, leap frogging traditional pathways to the industry, and offering training that is specific to their needs, companies can promote themselves to a much larger pool of young women (as well as young men) and by doing so, can impact the numbers of women within their workforce immediately.

They can also benefit from everything that the Apprenticeship Scheme has to offer, such as keen young people within the company who are learning on the job (right up to Post Graduate level) and whose external training is tailored and fits exactly with the company’s needs.

How can ELATT help…

At ELATT, we believe that Digital Apprenticeships are a transformative opportunity for both individuals and for the companies that take them on, and we are not alone in thinking this. Plummeting Apprenticeship numbers following the levy introduction has been reported on a lot in the press, yet not surprisingly, Digital Apprenticeships are bucking the trend. This year, they constitute 14% of all Apprenticeships across England, compared to just 3% the year before.

If you’d like to find out more about Digital Apprenticeships that are currently available, take a look at our Digital Apprenticeships Programme on offer please contact us at ELATT today.

Enquire NowVisit our Apprenticeships page

 

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