Skills Minister joins Leeds Rhinos, Leeds City College and Redcentric for launch of pioneering scheme to mark National Apprenticeship Week

The Skills Minister has attended the launch of a ‘groundbreaking’ scheme in Yorkshire to mark National Apprenticeship Week.

Leeds City College and IT company Redcentric have been working with Leeds Rhinos to design an IT sales apprenticeship aimed at their athletes of all genders and abilities.

The arrangement gives professional and amateur athletes access to a world-class training programme while guaranteeing them employment in the UK’s IT services sector – effectively offering the best of both worlds.  Part of a wider project to expand and diversify Redcentric’s talent pool, the apprenticeship will also support the Leeds Rhinos Diversity and Inclusion plan and the Rugby Football League’s “Tackle It” initiative.

The Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, Robert Halfon MP, was among the VIPs attending when Leeds Rhinos hosted the scheme’s launch event on 7 February. He said: “This new apprenticeship will help to not just tackle skills shortages, it’ll level the playing field for all.

“This is a huge, forward-looking investment from Leeds Rhinos who already employ many apprentices, offering a ladder of opportunity so that adults can retrain at any stage of their career, get involved in booming sectors like IT and tech and build a skills and apprenticeships nation.”

Bill Jones, Executive Principal at Leeds City College, said: “Despite the current economic backdrop, we want to be able to offer existing and future apprentices value-added courses that enhance their knowledge.

“The IT Services market in the United Kingdom is projected to grow by 6.74% and we want to build a future pipeline of talent to help drive growth across the sector and deliver great outcomes, not only for the Leeds City Region but for the UK.”

Also present at the launch was Jamie Jones Buchanan, Leeds Rhinos’ Head of Culture, Diversity and Inclusivity. Addressing the unique appeal of the initiative, he said:Through this apprenticeship scheme we are hoping to bridge the gap between sports and business, equipping sports people with the skills, tools and techniques to move into business at the appropriate point within their sporting career.”

The 12-month apprenticeship has been tailored to ensure apprentices are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to successfully sell products while following the correct procedures. The project’s Collaborative Apprenticeship Scheme component, meanwhile, will include a fully funded Cyber and Spreadsheets short course that will be taught remotely.

Redcentric, which is hoping to recruit around 50 apprentices over the next 12 to 24 months, launched a pilot of the IT technician sales apprenticeship at the end of 2022.  There are currently four pioneers of the scheme in place with an academy player from Leeds Rhinos already signed up and set to join in February. There are plans to recruit 10 Rhinos players to take on an apprenticeship with the firm, or other suitable employers, as the scheme grows.

Luminate Education Group aims to recruit 100 apprentices in 100 days to support region’s economy

Member colleges of leading education provider Luminate Education Group, have launched their second 100 in 100 campaign, which aims to get 100 apprentices placed in 100 days.

Leeds City, Keighley and Harrogate colleges’ campaign is part of a wider plan to support the region’s businesses to develop skills for the future and increase the number of apprentices as part of the levelling up agenda.

Last year, the colleges surpassed the 100 target, placing 150 apprentices in sectors including business, hospitality, engineering and health and social care. Overall the combined colleges have more than 3,000 apprentices on a wide range of programmes.

Luminate Education Group is the largest provider of apprenticeships in the region and works closely with more than 1,500 employers, including Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust(LTHT), Leeds City Council and Airedale NHS Foundation Trust.

Lee Pryor, Director of Apprenticeships at Luminate Education Group, said: “We want to be the provider that helps people take their careers to the next level. The campaign comes at a time where it will not only target over 500,000 students who are leaving education, but create critical roles desperately needed in a variety of industries.

“We are delighted to be running this fantastic initiative again.Whether you’re just starting your first job or looking to make a career change, we want to support you. We also want to address the staff shortages and supply chain disruption faced by many businesses across the Yorkshire region.

“Delivering the future workforce in health and social care, engineering, construction, hospitality, travel and more, is one of our key priorities.We would like to engage with as many businesses as possible to create the type of opportunities that will be beneficial, both to the apprentice and employer.”

Flagship conference pledges to ‘build back better’ as employers and providers gather to discuss the future of apprenticeships

The Luminate Education Group Apprenticeship team attended a two-day conference in Birmingham where they joined a host of organisations from across the UK for the flagship national apprenticeship conference for employers and providers.

Now in its eighth year, the Annual Apprenticeship Conference (AAC), provided business-critical updates, advice and keynotes for those involved in the delivery of apprenticeships. 

Hosted by FE Week and AELP, in association with NOCN, the conference was held at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre (ICC) and welcomed a number of prominent  keynote speakers including Minister for Skills, Alex Burghart, Ofsted Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman and, Shadow Skills & Apprenticeships Minister, Toby Perkins MP.

This year’s conference took place at a critical time for the UK as individuals and businesses emerge from the pandemic. The principal theme of AAC 2022 was ‘Building Back Better’, with a series of plenary sessions and workshops that covered insight into areas such as apprenticeship funding, achievement rates and changes to current SME systems.

Awards dinner and high commendation

The team also attended a gala dinner and awards ceremony where they were nominated and received high commendation for their outstanding contribution to the development of apprenticeships.

Lee Pryor, Director of Apprenticeships, praised the team for the accomplishment and for the work being done to promote and deliver apprenticeships across the region.

“We are truly honoured to have been shortlisted among some of the top education and training providers in the country, for playing our part in the development of apprenticeships.

“We want to be the go-to provider that supports people to take their careers to the next level, and delivering the future workforce in health and social care, engineering, construction, hospitality, travel and more, is one of our key priorities.”

The levelling up and skills agenda

Meanwhile, in his opening address, Alex Burghart MP spoke about the factors that will be needed to make levelling up a success in this generation.

He said: “One of the central factors will be skills. Skills will transform lives, they will transform communities, they will attract business and investment opportunities, improve national productivity and national competitiveness, and apprenticeships will be front and centre in that mission.”

The minister, who is responsible for overseeing further education providers, T Levels,  apprenticeships and adult education, said that the trajectory for progress was ‘in the right place’.

“We are making progress and getting back to where we should be. Nationally, the picture is bright and the latest figures reveal that in the first quarter of this academic year, 164,000 people started apprenticeships, which is 34% higher than the previous year and crucially six percent higher than before the pandemic.”

Alex Burghart, also added that the government intends to reevaluate the apprenticeship application process for young people to make it easier to navigate. Through this, the government hopes to see more young people choose apprenticeships as a post-school progression route.

Other keynote speakers included Jennifer Copeland, Chief Executive,Institute for Apprenticeships, who covered key issues around quality training, diverse workforces, the operation of the levy and how we can make apprenticeships work for everyone.

She said: “Our task is to ensure apprenticeships work for everyone.

“We need to take those commitment statements signed by the employer, apprentice and provider and really honour them. We also need to do more to support young apprentices to stay on their apprenticeship by demonstrating the value and training that they are getting, and mentoring them through those life events that might tip over into a decision to drop out.”

Apprenticeships are important to recovery

Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Speilman, used her address to talk about how the pandemic showed how important all industries and services in the UK are and how the country’s collective skills base responded quickly to the crisis.

She also spoke about the future of Ofsted and how apprenticeships  play a critical role when it comes to having a skilled workforce that will deliver for Britain now and in the future.

Amanda said: “Apprenticeships have never been more important both for pandemic recovery and for future growth and prosperity.

“We will continue to play our part. Inspecting without fear or favour; by highlighting and celebrating where we find the best provisions  and by reporting honestly on providers that aren’t giving apprentices and employers the training they deserve.

The levy needs reassessing so that young people have a real opportunity 

David Hughes, CEO of the Association of Colleges, spoke about the need for the delivery of skills that employers need, removing bureaucracy and making apprenticeship funding accessible. While Shadow Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships, Toby Perkins MP, reiterated that the apprenticeship levy is in need of reform and that collectively, there is a need to build a skills system that ensures that more young people across communities have access to apprenticeship opportunities.

Leeds City College first college in the country to support community wellbeing with new apprenticeship

Leeds City College, a member of Luminate Education Group, has launched a bespoke community health and wellbeing worker apprenticeship standard that will aim to improve health, prevent ill-health, and reduce inequalities in the West Yorkshire region.

Community health and wellbeing workers work in partnership with individuals and their communities to identify and address health and wellbeing needs, as well as inequalities.

The apprenticeship comes at a crucial time when mental health issues have risen by more than a quarter, with 60% of adults and 68% of young people saying that their mental health got worse during lockdown.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, almost 400,000 children and 2.2 million adults sought help for mental health problems during the pandemic, with 1.68 million more mental health sessions delivered over the past year compared with the year before.

The college will be the first in the country to deliver the apprenticeship with plans to deliver it remotely in the coming months.

The 12-month Level 3 programme will provide learners with a practical and affordable opportunity to develop their skills, while giving employers leeway to train their existing workforce in line with their company goals.

The trailblazer group was set up over 12 months ago and the college has been working in partnership with employers including the London Borough of Greenwich Brighton, Hove City Council, Cambridge, and Peterborough Integrated Care System (ICS).

Lee Pryor, Director of Apprenticeships at Luminate Education Group said: “Last year highlighted the significant pressures on community mental health and wellbeing services and how this has drastically changed as a result of the pandemic.

“This new apprenticeship comes at a time where concerns have been raised that mental health and care services may not reopen as before. It will be an opportunity to restore confidence within the community and prepare learners for the long-term, especially when in-person services are reinstated.

“Community health and wellbeing workers are a fast-growing workforce that will support the increasing emphasis on improving the health of local people and communities, and we want to work with organisations such as the NHS and local government to ensure that learners looking to progress in this area in the sector are equipped with the knowledge and skills to carry out their duties effectively.”

Last year, the college became one of six providers in the Northeast & Yorkshire region to be awarded several apprenticeship standards, including the healthcare cleaning operative and health play specialist apprenticeship.

For more about the apprenticeship and how to apply, email apprenticeships@leedscitycollege.ac.uk

Minister’s visit champions 100 in 100 apprenticeship campaign and the need for more apprentices in the region

Minister for Employment, Mims Davies MP from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) visited Leeds City College’s Printworks Campus during National Apprenticeship Week to promote apprenticeships in the region.

The minister met with Cheryl Smith, Principal of Printworks Campus, Lee Pryor, Director of Apprenticeships, Charlie Grayson, Head of Business & Commercial Development and several apprentices.

The minister, who is passionate about supporting young people and adults to gain the necessary skills and secure jobs now and in the future, helped launch the college’s 100 in 100 campaign, encouraging employers to consider taking on an apprentice.

She said: “At DWP we’re all about getting people ready to take local roles, and Leeds City College is doing a fantastic job working with employers across Yorkshire, to get them the people and skills they need.

“Apprenticeships aren’t just for young people, they can support people at any age or any career stage – and make sure we have the workforce we need, now, and for the future.”

“I’m absolutely behind the effort to get 100 more employers to step forward and take on some amazing apprentices, and future-proof their business by getting talent through the door.”

Minister Mims Davies speaking to apprentices

 The minister also spoke to hospitality, engineering, events management and digital marketing apprentices on how the benefits of an apprenticeship have helped them to progress on to high level apprenticeships or full-time employment.

Events and projects manager, Laura Prince, started out as a Level 3 Advanced Business Administration apprentice at the college before progressing on to a Level 4 Higher Project Management apprenticeship in 2018. Laura now oversees four apprentices and credits the college for helping her achieve her goal. 

She said: “Both my apprenticeships have supported my career progression, as I learnt relevant skills such as project management whilst also immersing myself in  ​responsibilities within the organisation I work for. 

The minister and Laura Prince

“One of the biggest benefits I felt after completing my apprenticeships was that I had three years of work experience in events and projects rather than feeling like I had to start from scratch.”​

Hospitality Team Member Apprentice, Taylor Butler, who has a visual and hearing impairment,has set his sights on becoming a pastry chef.

Taylor Butler

Taylor started on an Entry 3 in hospitality and catering in 2018 at college – an opportunity he says pushed him to pursue opportunities in the industry.

Taylor said: “Being at Leeds City College has been a great experience and encouraged learners like myself not to be worried because there is always someone to speak to and help you achieve your goals.

“Coming to college has made me more confident and doing what I am passionate about is a bonus.”

Charlie Grayson, Head of Commercial and Business Engagement at Leeds City College, said: “For employers, the decision to take on an apprentice is an important one. A number of vital industries across the country are experiencing acute skills shortages, this includes healthcare and engineering.

Charlie Grayson and Mims Davies

“Creating opportunities for learners wanting to study for an apprenticeship in industries that are struggling to recruit will open a new potential source of talent for these critical industries.

“It is key for us, as an education provider, to build relationships with employers and emphasise the benefits of apprenticeships. The 100 in 100 campaign is part of a plan that will ensure that apprentices are supported to complete their training and that employers are incentivised effectively to support them in their roles.”

The college  aims to ensure that its apprenticeship provision continues to support the region’s businesses to secure the right apprentices, creating accessible opportunities for those looking to change their career or  progress within their chosen industry.

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