Stephanie Khan
11th Dec 2018

What apprenticeship opportunities are there for the public sector?

There are a wide range of opportunities available to the public sector for you to fully utilise the value of apprenticeships in your organisations.

There has been a shift in the rules for apprenticeships, opening doors for people of all ages and levels in their career to take part in training to further their own skillset and progression. For the public sector specifically, these reforms saw the government setting a quota for apprenticeships, requiring all public bodies with 250 or more employees to have apprentices make up 2.3% of their workforce.

Whilst this has added pressure to public sector organisations to hire or place existing employees onto apprenticeships, it should be seen as a fantastic opportunity to use this government initiative to improve your teams and develop the training your organisation really needs. There is a continued growing skills gap in the UK and apprenticeships are the government’s solution to closing that.

With the new Standards, public sector bodies have over 350 apprenticeship programmes to choose from. Plus, the nature of the system means that, if a role does not already exist, an organisation can join an employer trailblazer group or create a new one to develop a Standard for a specific job role. Therefore, you can use the target and apprenticeship levy funds to drive real organisational change and gain the talent and skills you need to excel.

These are compelling reasons to consider apprenticeships, but what are the benefits to public sector organisations?

What are the benefits of apprenticeships for the public sector?

New skills and knowledge

The first benefit is one already touched on above. The introduction of Standards and greater focus on employer-led apprenticeship programmes has meant that you can develop and train your staff and new starters in areas that will truly improve your business. These trailblazer groups include members from multi-national organisations to not-for-profit charities, offering a wide range of perspectives and needs.

The knowledge your employees acquire on the apprenticeship is exactly what is needed for the businesses of today. But, best of all, they will bring these newly learnt abilities back to your company, where they can transfer their knowledge to their colleagues. Therefore, by training just one apprentice, you can inject new skills and knowledge into your team as a whole.

Hit apprenticeship target

That being said, with a target of 2.3% of your workforce on apprenticeships, you’ll probably want to put as many employees on as possible. By starting your employees on apprenticeships, you will be helping towards the government’s overall target of 3 million apprentice starts by 2020 as well as supporting the wider public sector.

The public sector has historically fallen behind its private sector counterparts with only 1.4% of its workforce on apprenticeships, compared to their 2.3%. This new target and the levy provide a perfect opportunity for public sector bodies to develop and utilise apprenticeship training to advance their current workforce. In statistics released in November 2018, the percentage of apprentices in the public sector has risen to 1.9% with the armed forces leading the way with 9.1% of employees starting an apprenticeship in 2017-18. Making strides to hit this government target could see your name up in lights as championing the apprenticeship message.

Digital by Default

Let’s not forget why the government has implemented these new targets around apprenticeship uptake in England: a key challenge for UK Plc is a lack of skills in certain areas, especially digital.

Technology is advancing at a rate quicker than the majority of employees and their employers can keep up with. This is coupled with a large proportion of the workforce not being confident with digital as often they have picked up skills later in life and not had any training in this area. Apprenticeships offer the perfect opportunity to get your entire workforce digitally confident.

Plus, if you are hiring graduates or school leavers onto your apprenticeships, they are very likely to have a natural affinity with technology. Those born after 1995 are considered the digital generation as they were brought up with technology and can quickly adapt to new products and processes in digital. Having someone who is naturally able to engage and discover new digital applications could advance your whole company’s digital intellect.

In a world where technology is advancing quicker than businesses can keep up, it will be incredibly useful to have a digital native in your midst.

Higher retention and satisfaction

A further benefit to your business is improving staff retention and satisfaction. It has been proven that offering employees the opportunity to train and gain further skills makes them feel more valued in the workplace and, therefore, more satisfied with their job and likely to stay. Furthermore, if an apprentice has gained their training and development from you, they are more likely to remain at the company post-apprenticeship with 97% of our apprentices finding a successful destination upon completion. We have also found that training apprentices improves other employee’s impression of you as an employer.

Offering training opportunities shows employees that you care about them and their progression, whilst also generating loyalty as you are the organisation that has invested in them so they will invest their time in return.

How are the public sector already taking advantage of apprenticeships?

Since our approval onto the Civil Service framework, we have worked closely with various public sector departments to establish how we can support them in executing their apprenticeship plans and hitting that 2.3% target.

For the Department of Education, they took the route of transferring their Finance Bursary scheme into an apprenticeship. We asked Garry Walker, Learning & Development and Professionalism Manager at DfE, about the transition from Bursary scheme to apprenticeships:

“From November 2017, we started to identify opportunities for our finance students and organisation through the Apprenticeship Programme and began to plan towards phasing out our bursary from May 2018, to replace it with a single offer (apprenticeships) post transition.

By end of July 2018, apprenticeships are already our largest finance training programme for staff.”

The DfE are predicted to have started 57 employees onto finance apprenticeships by March 2019. And they are not alone in their uptake of apprentices. Many government departments are working with Arch to transition their existing training programmes into apprenticeship schemes, which has given their employees access to training and development in far greater numbers than before. Within the Civil Service, Arch are forecasted to deliver more than 500 apprenticeships in HR and finance just this year.

Garry continues, “Due to our whole-hearted engagement with apprenticeships, and now offering this as a single finance training route, staff have generally adapted willingly to the apprenticeship programme.”

However, there is still a long way to go for some public sector organisations, with the police force trailing behind on apprentice take-up especially.

How can Arch Apprentices support you in your apprenticeship journey?

The Apprenticeship Levy can be a fantastic tool in order to assign more budget to the training and development of your staff with high quality apprenticeship programmes. It can give your organisation the knowledge boost it requires or, through digital-first programmes like Arch’s, encourage digital skills aiding the government’s “Digital by Default” aims.

Arch Apprentices can help you transform your teams through our expertise in aiding with the setup of apprenticeship schemes, rebranding of training programmes and hiring of new apprentices. Whatever your needs, we will be there every step of the way. To support, guide and ultimately deliver an exceptional apprenticeship experience to you and your employees.

If you are interested in learning more about our services, please get in touch.

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