A new, three million pound project that aims to increase and improve access to apprenticeships in the Leeds City Region is launching this summer.
Funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), Collaborative Apprenticeships will trial and test training programmes that can give apprentices extra, sector-based qualifications. The project will promote apprenticeship opportunities to more people and provide employers with the tools they need to recruit and retain apprentices.
The West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges was the driving force that brought together major partners to bid for the funding. This funding allows them to pilot innovative new ways of using the Apprenticeship Levy, and offer new ‘wrap around’ experiences for apprentices to help them excel.
Bradford College, Calderdale College, Luminate Education Group, Leeds College of Building, Shipley College and Wakefield College, Wakefield Council and the Textile Centre of Excellence will work in partnership with several local employers (including City of Bradford MDC) to deliver five key pilots projects.
Each pilot will be run in specific districts or sectors where there is a limited take up of apprentices, or will focus on targeting apprentices where there are barriers to development. The project will support both employers, employees and new apprentices.
Project Director from the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges Joanne Patrickson said,
“The pilots are currently being prepared and we’ll be announcing further details as they take shape, but we hope to have a big impact on apprenticeship recruitment and development in our region as we share our findings.
“The five pilot projects will take an in-depth look at where opportunities exist within the apprenticeship system and test out ways to improve quality and quantity in partnership with employers. The pilots will range from helping businesses to navigate the apprenticeship process to helping apprentices add to their qualifications and thrive as leaders of the future. We also want to find ways of making apprenticeships more accessible to those who may not know where to start, both from an employer and apprentice point of view.”
Pilot one, ‘Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Models’ will develop a brokerage service between large employers and SMEs in areas where take up of apprenticeships by businesses is traditionally low. We will help SMEs to understand the process and how to access funds through the apprenticeship scheme.
The second, ‘Stronger Leaders’ pilot will aim to develop leadership skills in apprentices. This programme for aspiring participants could help them to become future senior leaders within SMEs.
Pilot three, ‘Sector Springboard to Apprenticeships’ will help those who are interested in applying for an apprenticeship to take their first steps. The programme will offer an introduction to an apprenticeship role, support with the application processes and a work placement. The short, sector based courses will focus on the digital, health, engineering, construction and schools sectors and will target those who are not already on an apprenticeship and want to work in a new sector or progress in their career.
Targeting the health and social care, digital, construction and engineering sectors, the fourth pilot programme, ‘Enhanced Apprenticeships’ will offer additional qualifications to enhance an apprentice’s skills and qualifications. For example, programmes could include a range of additional qualifications such as project management, dementia awareness, customer service or automation which are outside the apprenticeship framework, but key to the sector.
The final pilot, ‘More SMEs –More Apprenticeships’ would involve a series of activities for SMEs to help them understand the apprenticeship process. Employers will be supported with short training courses and practical workshops on issues such as managing the online apprenticeship account and recruiting apprentices, plus support from the colleges to analyse and plan for longer term training needs.
Details and opportunities from all five pilots will be published on the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges website
About the funding
The Collaborative Apprenticeships project is receiving up to £3.2million of funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding