The Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) is in the midst of its latest initiative aimed at encouraging employers and training providers to take on apprentices with disabilities. Acting in partnership with Remploy Employment Services, the LSIS is addressing issues through two workshops this week, one held on Monday and another scheduled for Thursday. Three other workshops on the subject were organised earlier this year and proved extremely successful. The LSIS will be closed on 31 July 2013 but Remploy, the specialist employment support services provider, is hoping to secure a sponsor and continue to deliver such workshops across the country.
The seminars focus on concerns that might discourage employers and training providers from recruiting apprentices with disabilities. A survey commissioned by the National Apprenticeship Service in 2011 identified some of those concerns. Remploy, which carried out the research, established that employers were often deterred from taking on disabled apprentices for fear of an overwhelming regulatory burden with regard to health and safety. Some were also concerned that the apprentices would drop out of the programme, which could affect the company’s business plans. Through these workshops, the LSIS and Remploy seek to address existing concerns by informing providers how to get extra support and funding for disabled apprentices, as well as increase the number of disabled learners in apprenticeship programmes by using employer engagement strategies.
Remploy business consultant Howard Nelson said the organisation was hoping to carry on the work started by the LSIS although the workshops may not be free in the future if a sponsor is not found. The success of the events organised so far has prompted Remploy to consider a national conference on disabled apprentices, which is scheduled to take place in September.
Later this year, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) will celebrate
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the contribution of apprentices and technicians to the advancement of the engineering and technology sectors. This will be done through the newly launched IET Apprentice and Technician of the Year Awards. The winners will be announced on 20 November during the IET Achievement Awards Ceremony. Those wishing to compete for the honour have until the end of this month to submit their applications.
In the case of apprentices, the award will go either to an individual or a team comprising up to five apprentices. One condition is that the person or people need to be in at least their second year of an apprenticeship scheme approved by the IET. The applicants also need to be progressing well on their road to apprenticeship qualifications and to have contributed significantly to the business of their employer or area. This contribution will be documented in a report that has to accompany the application. Candidates also have to provide an endorsement statement from their employer or scheme coordinator.
The prize combines a certificate, a cash payment of £1,000 and two years’ free IET membership. If the apprenticeship award goes to a team, the cash prize should be shared equally among the apprentices.
The IET will also honour exceptional contributions and achievements by technicians. Nominations will be made in two categories: “Technician of the Year” and “Armed Forces Technician of the Year.” To be eligible, applicants in the second category must be serving members of the UK Armed Forces.
Starting this August, the government is making available traineeships for young
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people between the ages of 16 and 19 and those with Learning Difficulty Assessments up to an academic age of 25. The plan is to extend the scheme at a later point to include young people up to 24 years of age, the Skills Funding Agency has announced.
Traineeships are intended to assist youngsters willing to work but requiring extra help to secure an apprenticeship or a job. The programme, which will last for six months at the most, is developed with individual learner needs in mind. It will provide participants with the opportunity to build their skills and gain workplace experience relevant to employers, thus improving their chances of securing a job.
The programme will focus on putting young people in high quality work placements, providing them with work preparation training and helping them with English and maths. Training providers and employers will be free to combine those elements in a manner that best engages and supports trainees, laying the foundations for future skills and careers.
Eligible providers will play a central part in the coordination of traineeships with local employers. Providers will also play a leading role in engaging trainees and ensuring they satisfy the eligibility criteria laid out the Framework Document. Employers will play an equally important role, assuming responsibility for providing high quality work placements in partnership with training providers.
The Skills Funding Agency said that it would publish a list of eligible providers and traineeship funding rules this week.
Semta, the UK sector skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies, announced yesterday the launch of a new apprenticeship framework that is expected to play a crucial role in securing the country’s future talent in the composite engineering sector.
The Composite Engineering Apprenticeship Framework is the product of collaboration between employer working groups and industry stakeholders. After consideration and debate, they have agreed on National Occupational Standards content and level for their industry. The initiative will be run by Semta’s Composite Sector Strategy Group. Announcing the launch of the framework, Semta also said that Graham Mulholland would replace Ken Wappat as chairman of the Composite Sector Strategy Group.
Commenting on the new framework, Wappat described it as the apogee of his work. He went on to say that the programme would keep the UK manufacturing sector supplied with composite skills for years to come. Mulholland added that he was thrilled to be taking over from Wappat and was looking forward to establishing working relationships with more employers, especially small and medium-sized enterprises. This is the way to ensure that the composite engineering sector always has a rich supply of skilled workers at its disposal, the incoming chairman said.
The framework seeks to provide a flexible solution for employers by offering Level 2 and Level 3 pathways. With Level 2, the focus is on semi-skilled operator occupations – an area plagued by constant skill shortages. Level 3 addresses craft skilled and technician occupations, which are seen as crucial to maintaining the global competitiveness of UK manufacturing, Semta said.
Skillsmart Retail UK and the National Skills Academy for Retail (NSAR) have invited retail sector employers to a consultation event that will take place on 17 May in London. The two organisations are looking for views and suggestions on what apprenticeships in the sector should entail and how they should be delivered.
The event constitutes a response to the UK government’s request for employer feedback on how to implement recommended reforms. The changes proposed by the government followed last year’s publication of the Richard Review of apprenticeships and their future. Embracing the suggestions put forward in the report, the government will focus on placing greater control in the hands of employers and making sure that apprenticeships follow rigorous standards and reflect employers’ needs.
While Skillsmart Retail UK will seek opinions on every aspect of apprenticeship content and delivery, it is most interested in understanding what apprenticeship design would work best to meet the needs of retail sector employers. Cara Taylor, who serves as apprenticeship manager at the organisation, said that the planned reforms were likely to have a major effect on retail apprenticeships and Skillsmart Retail UK wanted to give companies the opportunity to make their voices heard. Through other work Skillsmart Retail UK is doing and through its partnership with the NSAR, the organisation aims to transform the development and delivery of apprenticeships in the sector, Taylor added.
Retail is a critical sector of the UK economy and retail apprenticeships remain on the rise. In 2012, more than 20,000 people completed apprenticeship programmes in the sector.
Technology plays a central role in young people’s lives and the National Apprenticeship
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Service (NAS) plans to make the most of this. Through the freshly launched “Can you hack it as an apprentice” design challenge, the NAS will kill two birds with one stone: bringing apprenticeships to the attention of more young people while giving young people themselves the chance to demonstrate their creative potential.
The competition will involve the design and development of a Facebook app or game, the plan being to have the prototype ready for launch in late summer. The five best ideas will be shortlisted and each developer will get £3,000 to bring their design to a prototype beta stage. Once testing is done, the winning developer will be granted another £10,000 to complete his or her work. The NAS will launch the product on its Facebook page in August. The competition is open to developers aged between 16 and 24 and entry forms must be submitted by 24 May 2013.
With the help of the new app or game, the NAS is aiming to increase awareness of apprenticeships and thus boost the number of young Britons entering vocational training. The initiative also seeks to address employer demands for high quality of apprenticeship applications.
The NAS has chosen to break with tradition, which would have seen the development task assigned to a creative agency. It said that by opting for an alternative course of action, the organisation is giving young people the chance to spread their creative wings and deliver a product for their peers.
The Brathay Trust charity has shortlisted the finalists for this year’s Brathay Apprentice
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Challenge, which seeks the best apprenticeship team in the UK. The eight finalists were selected among 800 individual apprentices from 90 apprenticeship employers, training providers and colleges from across the country.
The finalists were announced by skills minister Matthew Hancock and include Broadland Council Training Services (BCTS), a Norfolk-based team of apprentices from local small businesses, as well as Burnley Borough Council, last year’s winners aerospace company Cobham, Cumbria-based packaging manufacturer Innovia Films, Norwich facilities management firm Norse Group, Plymouth City Council and Unilever.
Over the past two months, applicants took part in more than 60 community projects and 280 school visits to educate young people about the benefits of being an apprentice for a person’s career development and qualifications.
The Brathay Apprentice Challenge is supported by the National Apprenticeship Service and aims to find the best apprentices in terms of non-technical work skills and personal attributes. The shortlisted finalists will take part in further fundraising and awareness raising activities in May before the winner is announced at the final event, which will be held at Brathay Trust’s headquarters in Windermere on 10-12 June.
Matthew Hancock commented that all apprentices that participated in the Challenge this year have demonstrated the remarkable ambition and dedication they deliver to their employers on a daily basis. The selected finalists can be a real inspiration to young people who are thinking of becoming apprentices, he added.
In 2008, Cranfield School of Management and e-learning provider learndirect published a report called “Nurturing Talent: building the workforce of the future.” Five years later they have taken another look at the situation, focusing on youth employment and the role of apprenticeships in the overall picture. The new report concludes that apprenticeships are vital for building a sustainable UK labour force and creating employment opportunities for more people. It also stresses the importance of stepping up efforts to promote the benefits of vocational training and of getting employers actively involved in such efforts.
The survey conducted by Cranfield School of Management established that 70% of employers had yet to act on the issue of tackling potential skill shortages in the next decade or two. Although many agree that apprenticeships can make a big contribution to addressing that problem, only 7% of respondents said they had encountered no problems with securing the right youngsters for positions that need filling. The survey found that 21% of employers had apprentices on their staff, with 32% in that group declaring that training programmes provided an effective way of dealing with the dearth of technical talent.
Dr Emma Parry, who wrote the report, pointed out that apprenticeships do more than just allow companies to solve their skills problem. The evidence suggests that having apprentices on board can boost employee morale, strengthen commitment and improve retention rates. It can also reduce recruitment costs and help a company establish a reputation as a good employer, Dr Parry said.
Stephen Smyth- Marketing Manager at ATG Training, welcomed the new report and pointed to the the Government committment to vocational training. Apprenticeship training is funded by Goverment and there is currently an incentive of up to £15,000 for employers who recruit new Apprentices Smyth continued.
The UK government has pointed out time and again that the country cannot maintain a globally competitive economy without the proper skills base. It is also regularly stressed that the UK is in great need of more engineering talent and apprenticeships are an excellent way of addressing the problem. In light of that, a new initiative launched in Oxfordshire is a big winner. It gives young people the chance to earn while training on the job by starting an apprenticeship, and the county stands to make an invaluable addition to its talent pool.
The initiative in question runs under the name Apprenticeship Launchpad and aims to promote manufacturing, science and engineering (MSE) apprenticeships among school pupils, Insider Media has reported. The scheme is led by Oxfordshire County Council and is supported by Science Oxford, a charitable organisation focused on encouraging connections between science, enterprise and society.
The goal of the campaign is to provide young people with information about companies in and around the Science Vale UK Enterprise Zone covering Abingdon, Culham and Didcot. As part of the initiative, school pupils will get invitations to six events held at different MSE enterprises. This will give the youngsters the opportunity to meet current apprentices, tour company premises and try their hand at practical challenges. The Apprenticeship Launchpad has already gained the support of five schools, which have registered to promote the scheme to students studying science and technology subjects. The project has also drawn several businesses, among them STFC-operated scientific research centre Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
Despite recommendations for a freeze, the UK government has decided to lift the minimum wage for apprentices as of 1 October 2013. Young people enrolled in apprenticeship programmes will be paid £2.68 per hour, which represents an increase of 3p. This rate applies to apprentices aged up to 18 and those over 19 who are in their first apprenticeship year.
The Low Pay Commission, the independent body that advises the government on matters concerning the national minimum wage, recommended lifting adult and youth pay rates. However, it advocated freezing the apprenticeship rate at £2.65, citing a worrisome level of non-compliance on the part of employers.
Starting in October, adult employees will be entitled to a minimum wage of £6.31 per hour, or 12p higher than the current figure. For employees aged between 18 and 20, the amount will increase by 5p to £5.03. The rate for 16- and 17-year-olds is going up by 4p to £3.72.
Business Secretary Vince Cable stated that the Low Pay Commission had the extremely important task of advising the government on issues related to the national minimum wage. This year its recommendations on adult and youth rates were accepted but ministers decided to increase the apprentice rate as well. Cable said that apprenticeships were seen as central to strengthening the UK economy and the government was committed to increasing their appeal for young people. Ministers are busy developing a raft of tough new measures in order to address non-compliance across the board, Cable added.