Training providers: how to boost apprenticeship starts

Forging relationships with schools and sixth-forms and engaging them with apprenticeships is crucial, says Anna Morrison

Kate Parker

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The proportion of apprentices trained by independent training providers has dropped significantly.  

According to figures published in March, in 2017-18, 67 per cent of apprentices were trained by providers, either directly or through subcontracting arrangements. This was down from 74 per cent in 2016-17.

At the time, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) said that it believed the overall drop in apprenticeships starts was a factor – it also said that 200 fewer independent training providers were delivering apprenticeship training to non-levy paying employers as a result of a controversial government procurement exercise in 2017, and the halving of the budget for small and medium-sized enterprises' apprenticeships since April 2017 could have had an impact. 

More news: Milton: Let's not 'turn off the tap' on apprenticeships

Background: Independent training providers lose apprenticeship market share

Read more: Hinds: apprenticeship target will not be reached

So what can ITPs do to ensure that the number doesn’t drop further? Forging links with schools is crucial, says Anna Morrison, director and founder of Amazing Apprenticeships. 

Speaking at the AELP annual conference early this week, Morrison shared her advice on how exactly independent training providers could ensure that schools and sixth-form colleges are engaged with apprenticeships. 

Helping schools to understand what an independent training provider is

  • Put together information about where you’re based and what you offer, the range of employers you work with, the number of apprenticeships you support, what your Ofsted rating is, and the flexibility of your different delivery models.

  • Hold open days and invite teachers and careers leaders in.  

  • Host meetings with teachers/career leaders and include a tour and talk.

  • Create short explainer videos, no more than a couple of minutes.

Demonstrate the benefits of building a relationship with you 

  • Explain that providers have first sight of local vacancies.

  • Explain that providers have a detailed understanding of the local economy.

  • Help schools to meet Gatsby Benchmark 7 (encounters with further and higher education).

  • Specialist knowledge of apprenticeships and particular sectors. 

  • Expertise around recruitment practices. 

  • Offer to circulate information on vacancies.

  • Have input into meetings about local trends and emerging opportunities.

Offer a range of activities to promote apprenticeships

  • Avoid "sales pitch" assemblies.

  • Enhance the Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge for School and Colleges (ASK) programme offer and other local offers.

  • Speak to local schools about what is missing and what their biggest challenges are.

  • Deliver workshops around specialist areas of interest.

  • Work with schools to identify candidates and support pipeline opportunities from school to apprenticeship.

  • Support students in preparing for the transition from school to workplace. For example, host a workshop with existing apprentices.

  • Introduce employers to young people and offer support with activities like speed networking, work experience or shadowing an apprentice.

Make it easy for schools

  • Become a trusted adviser. 

  • Build connections.

  • Ask other schools to introduce you.

  • Use your local provider network as the neutral umbrella. 

  • Tell them about the success of their past students.

  • Provide a single point of contact.

  • Ask staff about personal connections to the school.

  • Join the school governance body.

  • Encourage apprentices to join the Young Apprentice Ambassador Network (YAAN).

  • Prepare posters for the school featuring past pupils and what they are doing now through apprenticeships.

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateeParker

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