Pain shared is pain divided, the saying goes. It seems this is the approach many colleges will be taking to increasing apprenticeship delivery. After the government announced that colleges should be upping their game and delivering a larger proportion of apprenticeships to refill their empty coffers, a document presented to the area review advisory group last month, which found its way into FErret’s paws, suggests that something called a “joint apprenticeship company” could be the solution.
These companies, FErret understands, could allow colleges to join forces to improve their offering, leading to a higher profile and easier access for employers. Rather than colleges navigating the new and scary world of apprenticeships by themselves, they could get all the benefits of increasing their apprenticeship numbers, while sharing the burden, costs, risk and added workload with other colleges and providers in their region.
Providers in Manchester were quickest off the mark to launch an apprenticeship company – with nine FE colleges and a training provider signed up so far. This move, they believe, allows them to pool their expertise and will help them to inspire more students to become apprentices, through the creation of a new “careers portal” focused on apprenticeships.
And according to the leaked paper on apprenticeship companies, the area review in Birmingham and Solihull has recommended that three general FE colleges in the region establish a joint apprenticeship company, with similar thinking also apparent in the Sheffield city region and Sussex area reviews.
“This option is one the FE commissioner has been keen to actively encourage local steering groups to consider; confirming that apprenticeship growth and the potential for apprenticeship companies/hubs is a valid and credible recommendation for a steering group,” the report states.
Only time will tell if the saying about sharing pain will hold true – not to mention whether there will be any apprenticeship-driven riches for colleges to share out as well.