It is always particularly satisfying to see an endeavour that sounds great in theory really working out in practice. In September I attended the Horsham Jobs and Skills fair where a record 42 employers were exhibiting: applications were being invited and the emphasis was very much on apprenticeships as an alternative to University.
The theory of apprenticeships is that they allow young people to get valuable paid work experience, whilst gaining a professional qualification alongside. They are not for everybody (neither is University) but the Government is keen to ensure that they are there as a strong option for young people or those wanting to retrain. Reforms have raised the quality of apprenticeships at all levels. There are now over 350 new and approved employer-designed apprenticeships standards. A year ago only 2.5% of people on apprenticeships were starting on the new employer designed standards, this has now increased to over 40%. The apprenticeship levy has resulted in continued investment in apprenticeships and the annual budget will rise to £2.45 billion by 2020.
Having met George, an apprentice for Horsham District Council, when he was handling the HDC PR and support for the “Memory Walk” in Horsham Park. I touched base with him and Jessica, both of whom got great A-Level results but preferred to go down the apprentice roof.
Alongside George’s apprenticeship in Digital Marketing, Jessica’s placement is in HDC’s Housing Department. Both are working towards a professional qualification recognised by the Chartered Institute of Digital Marketing and Housing respectively. It is very clear that they enjoy the early responsibility, team work and professional qualification that comes with their roles.
Since April 2017 HDC have recruited to 11 new vacancies and funded career development apprenticeship training for a further five existing members of staff. An additional four opportunities are currently being considered. Training includes Business Admin, Housing Management, Digital Marketing, Town Planning, Project Management and Strategic Leadership.
Its clear that the benefit of apprenticeships goes both ways, for all the many local employers who engage as for HDC it is a great way to recruit and train excellent local talent as well as providing a great opportunity for the new employees.
Photo caption: It was a pleasure to join Kingslea pupils and their Headteacher, Mr Conway, at QM Studios in Horsham. The students were absolutely delighted to be recording their music project.