Committed to providing opportunities for apprentices and schools

I’ve spoken before about my heartfelt belief in the value of traineeships and apprentices – both are absolutely vital in helping employers develop and raise standards, while providing young people with worthwhile opportunities to gain skills and experience and build a future.

Apprenticeships are real jobs that give people the opportunity to train and become fully competent whilst employed in a role. So I am delighted to announce the launch of the PET-Xi Apprenticeship Scheme which we are rolling out to schools over the next few months.

Delivering three million apprenticeships by 2020 is a key priority for the Government. To support this aim it has just launched a consultation on measures to ensure apprentices make up more than 2.3% of the workforce in public bodies in England. This means that, in future, schools with 250 or more employees – fairly common for example in multi-academy trusts – will need to have a percentage of apprentices among their employees. The idea is to help the public sector improve from its current position of delivering comparatively fewer apprenticeships than the private sector.

As Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Sajid Javid MP and Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan MP, said in a statement launching their consultation, “Leveraging apprenticeships through the public sector will play a significant role in helping to deliver apprenticeship growth. Expanding the number of apprenticeships will improve the capacity and capability of the public sector, ensuring that it benefits from the same positive impacts as in the rest of the economy and enable more people to achieve their potential.

“Apprenticeships benefit employers, apprentices and the economy. High quality apprenticeships are essential to support our employers and to help our economy to prosper in the years to come.”

Following the success of our traineeship programme in Sheffield – designed to help young people aged 16 to 24 who don’t yet have the appropriate skills or experience to get a job or apprenticeship – our new apprenticeship scheme moves us further into this vital arena.

We are currently launching our apprenticeship scheme to schools, giving them the opportunity either to put an existing teaching assistant onto the scheme or perhaps even to offer to a year 11 leaver with potential. While the apprentice’s employer will be the school, we will deliver the course and the accreditation – a Level 2 certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in schools.

Employing apprentices makes economic sense and has three other vital benefits:

  • Building the talent pipeline: apprenticeships can be used either for new recruitment or to develop internal talent to fill critical skills gaps.
  • Developing existing staff: Apprenticeships are of value for anyone changing roles or who wants to learn new skills and advance within an organisation.
  • Social mobility: increasing the number of apprenticeships helps identify talent from diverse backgrounds and give them opportunities to progress within their organisation

The 3 million apprenticeship target is a worthy one – but it’s also a very tall order. We are pleased to be doing our bit and to support schools as they begin to get involved as well.

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