Reflection on Apprenticeships
Colin Wilson, Training and Development Manager, Peterborough City Council took the time before his retirement to reflect back on the opportunities available to apprentices at Peterborough since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, including what has been achieved so far and their aspirations for the future.
Although he openly admitted that the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy has not been as straightforward as was envisaged, Colin was keen to reflect on the achievements, which have already been made in partnership with City College Peterborough and the future scope to expand on these.
Although Peterborough has 1350 employees, the opportunities for existing employees to take up apprenticeships have been limited to date, but it is anticipated that as the range of available apprenticeship standards grows, there will be more opportunity for this. Many of Peterborough’s day-to-day operations which would be suited to the apprenticeship standards currently available (such as customer services, libraries, leisure and cultural services) are contracted out to Partner organisations, and existing employees require apprenticeship standards which focus on specific skills areas or professional areas of expertise. As an example, Peterborough are engaged in work on a trailblazer for a Social Work Apprenticeship Level 6, driven by Norfolk County Council and Skills for Care. When launched, they hope this will be provide an attractive employment based route into Social Work and offer new opportunities for skilled and experienced social care practitioners to train as social workers.
The HR team welcomed two HR apprentices in late 2016 as a response to the difficulty Peterborough have had in recruiting and retaining HR Business Partners. Both have been engaged in the Human Resources Management Level 5 programme and have continued to gain experience in all areas of HR as part of their development. The success of these apprenticeships can be evidenced by the great levels of service they are providing to line managers and employees. Further to this, a vacancy in the workforce development team presented the ideal opportunity to offer an apprenticeship in Learning and Development level 3 which was also successfully recruited to.
Additionally, two existing employees have started apprenticeships in Management, Level 5; two apprentices have commenced Intelligence, Level 4 and 10 apprentices are due to start Public Service level 3. Three new apprentices have also been recruited across three schools for Business Administration, Levels 2 and 3. Several Managers have an appetite to start the Management Level 7 Apprenticeship, which has recently become available and levels of interest in other professional areas, such as Planning and Legal have been strong.
Agreements to move towards a managed service through City College Peterborough are underway to further capitalise on the wealth of experience they can provide whilst enabling Workforce and HR professionals to concentrate on workforce planning which is integral to the further development of apprenticeship opportunities. There have been early discussions with Cambridgeshire County Council to share information and to consider joint apprenticeship programmes where appropriate to ensure best value from suppliers. Whilst both of these initiatives are in the early stages, they have great potential to be successful in shining the light on the way forward to increase the number of apprenticeships in Peterborough.
During his time leading on the Apprenticeship Levy at Peterborough City Council, Colin admitted that he has found the networking and sharing of ideas and issues with other Councils, both through the formal East of England LGA Regional group and also more informally, absolutely invaluable.
Colin was an active member of the East of England Regional Working Group, contributing ideas for the Regional Strategy on Apprenticeships and the ongoing implementation.