Explore how data can provide crucial clues about skills gaps in your organization.
Understand routes to funding successful apprenticeship programs.
What makes a high-quality program, and its effect on your talent pipeline.
Apprenticeships had already become a central plank of policy as government and industry endeavor to bridge the gap between education and employment. But the pandemic looks set to shine an even brighter spotlight on training schemes as multiple sectors seek ways to build back better.
Our webcast featured experts who have made it their mission to help organizations across the public, private and third sectors deliver outstanding apprenticeship programs and build a talent pipeline fit for the future. Here’s a glimpse of their insights, available in full at the link below.
Do what the data tells you
Too few businesses head into apprenticeship programs with a clear idea of the skills they need for a prosperous future. That may make them an altruistic employer, giving young apprentices opportunities they’d lacked, or retraining existing staff with new competencies. But it’s not a recipe for long-term success.
Data is the key to identifying the skills gap in any organization. That means scrutinizing the information available internally but also wider market analysis to build a picture of current and future trends that will affect your business. Apprenticeship programs can then become one element of the fuel that helps the company thrive.
Investors in People CEO Paul Devoy believed that without this clear line of sight, disaster may not be far away: “Blockbuster could have been Netflix, HMV might have been Spotify. If only they had planned properly to see what was coming and what skills they needed to be able to adapt to new models.”
Establishing a strong business case for offering apprenticeships, ahead of actually devising the program, is crucial.
Shifting skills landscape
Entire industries, not just individual firms, will rise or fall based on their ability to attract and develop the right talent. Skills surveys from the past two decades reveal persistent gaps, for example in science, engineering, manufacturing, and digital expertise.
Anna Ambrose, Director of the London Progression Collaboration, thinks apprentices can be a game-changer: “Drill into the data and you discover shortages in skills to build greener homes or staff care homes. These are not intangible economic points – they are things we care about, and something apprenticeships can address.”
Developing skills in new recruits or existing employees who are shifting focus to a different role doesn’t just reduce expensive recruitment bills. It can also have a hugely positive impact on staff motivation and retention.
Navigating the funding minefield
If there’s one thing that puts companies off launching a program it’s the complex nature of funding.
The experts explained the Apprenticeship Levy – a tax paid by larger companies to fund training – and the Levy Transfer. This acts as an alternative source of funding that can be allocated to, for example, suppliers in a bid to strengthen skills in the chain for the benefit of the sector as a whole.
It’s important to remember that upskilling of existing employees is a legitimate use of the levy, complementing the ability to bring new, young staff into a business.
Hundreds of schemes are in play but some offer questionable quality of training.
Investors in People has developed an accreditation framework allowing organizations to assess the quality of their new or existing apprenticeship. The tool can also be used to measure the ongoing performance of programs. CEO Paul Devoy explained: “Of course it’s good for apprentices if an employer delivers a good program. But it’s also a marketing tool, sending a signal to the market they have a high-quality scheme.”
Best-in-class apprenticeship programs feature the following:
- Training goals fully embedded with strategic business objectives
- A true partnership between business, training provider and apprentice
- Apprentices who are supported but also gifted autonomy for learning
- A long-term plan that considers progression beyond the scheme
- Communication of success – including testimonials from happy apprentices
Like large parts of industry, learning and development is at a crossroads following the pandemic. Done right, apprenticeships can be the key to a better 2021 – and a bright future.
CEO, Investors in People
Paul has been heading up Investors in People since August 2011. He led the transfer of Investors in People from the UK Government in 2016.