Agenda and draft minutes

Select Committee - Apprenticeships - Thursday, 10th January, 2013 9.00 am

Venue: Medway Room, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Theresa Grayell  01622 694277

Note No. Item

09:00 - 09:45 am


Interview with Sue Dunn, Head of Skills and Employability Service, and Richard Little, Skills and Employability Manager, KCC Skills and Employability Team pdf icon PDF 46 KB

Additional documents:


(1)       The Chairman welcomed Sue Dunn and Richard Little to the meeting.


(2)       Sue set out the context of the County Councils work on Apprenticeships.  Apprenticeships had been a priority for the County Council over the past 6 years. Kent was seen as being in the forefront of work and innovation in relation to the Apprenticeship agenda.  This built on the work carried out by colleagues in Customer and Communities prior to this work moving to the Education Directorate.  Sue referred to the Richard review of Apprenticeships and the changing funding for post 16 year olds giving employers more say in how the funding is used if the 10 recommendations from the review get adopted unchanged.  The Skills and Employability Service (S & E service) was established on 1st April 2012 and came into effect on 1st September 2012.  The Service brought together all of the Councils services in this area, including all of the work with employers as part of the One Council approach. 


(3)       Sue stated the Team had very strong links with the Economic Development and Regeneration Teams.  The Employability and Skills Team consisted of 30 officers.  She informed the Committee that the 14 to 24 Strategy was just about to be published once it had been approved by Cabinet.


(4)       Sue stated that the role of the Local Authority in relation to education was changing daily and therefore they had a different role to play in the skills agenda which was identified within the 14 to 24 Strategy.  She set out the 4 strands with the Strategy:


            i)          working with schools and colleges agenda

            ii)         looking at the training offer, within that sits vocational centres and apprenticeships. 

            iii)        participation and employability – setting out what the learner journey looks like and where it takes young people.  In relation to Higher and Further Education consideration need to be given to the employability of 18 year olds.    A question to be asked of schools in relation to post 16 year olds is how many have good employment opportunities at 18.  There is also a signification unemployment issue for graduates.

iv)        Vulnerable Learners was a key area of the County Council’s work.  These young people often need a bespoke programme.    Officers were working with groups at the moment looking at employment profiles of young people who were vulnerable in order to take them into assisted employment.


NB - Committee to be supplied with copies of the 14 – 24 Strategy.


(5)       Sue stated that in terms of the work of the Select Committee she referred to the evidence from the work that has been carried out by District Councils to support apprenticeships in their area.  District Councils, such as Swale and Shepway, have been active in their areas re apprenticeships and they have established good links to local employers.  It was important for the Committee to talk to schools and training providers and get positive feedback on how to deliver on challenging targets.  An example of one of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

10:00 - 10:45 am


Interview with Jon Thorn, Head of Business Development, National Apprenticeships Service (NAS) pdf icon PDF 51 KB

Additional documents:


(1)       The Chairman welcomed Jon Thorn to the meeting and invited him to give his presentation and answer questions from Members.


(2)       Jon provided some background about the NAS. The NAS is a Government Agency which works closely with the SFA who manage the apprenticeship funding on NAS’ behalf. The NAS has 320 staff nationally and operates through 4 divisions. Within the division the functions are organised into two main strands; Business Development and Employer Accounts team to support employers to take on apprenticeships. In addition there is a dedicated team of experts to support small employers which support all divisions. The organisation also offers a web-based apprenticeship vacancy system which advertises all new apprenticeship vacancies. The system allows for applications to be made directly for the vacancies contained within.


(3)       Jon confirmed that all new apprenticeships should go onto the NAS website unless the employers specifically state otherwise.


Q – Is there a link to the KCC Apprenticeships website on the NAS website?


(4)       Jon replied that KCC had a separate website for vacancies but it linked to the vacancies posted on the NAS website.  Vacancies could be advertised in more than one place but NAS wanted to make sure that publicly funded apprenticeship opportunities are advertised on their site as far as possible.


Q – Further education colleges have their own recruitment system would they be expect to have their vacancies on this website?


(5)       Jon stated that he would expect to see these vacancies on the NAS website.  He explained that any employers who made contact via the NAS website would be party to a conversation on business needs and how this could be supported by an apprentice, the scale of the opportunity would also be explored e.g. whether there could be more than one apprentice. Impartial advice would also be give to the employer on training providers.  Where an employer was recruiting to a new post the training provider would manage the vacancy on behalf of the employer.


In a nutshell the journey can be seen as a 5 step process. NAS’ dedicated employer team, including SME specialists, will guide employers through a simple five-step process to hiring an apprentice:

1.      Define an employer’s requirements with an expert Apprenticeship adviser.

2.      Discuss the right training provider, Apprenticeship programme and confirm funding.

3.      Determine the number of apprentice(s) an employer requires.

4.      Drive recruitment applications through the free Apprenticeship vacancies service.

5.      Decide on the right person and the apprentice starts


Q – What level of contact do you have with SME’s?


(6)       NAS has a dedicated Small Business Team in each division that works directly with SME’s. The team has a growing contact with small employers but  it is important that NAS added value and did not duplicate the work of others in this area. Overall 8% of active SME’s in Kent, currently employ an Apprentice.




(7)       The Chairman invited Jon to give his presentation (copy attached) and to answer questions on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

11:00 - 11:45 am


Interview with Peter Hobbs, Chief Executive, Kent Channel Chamber of Commerce pdf icon PDF 35 KB

Additional documents:


Please introduce yourself and outline the roles and responsibilities that your post involves.

I am the Chief Executive of the Kent Channel Chamber of Commerce, which has existed since 1899. The Chamber covers East Kent (Thanet, Dover and Shepway) which includes many areas of deprivation.  We work with businesses of all types, across all sectors.  97% of East Kent’s businesses are micro-businesses.


I have worked with the Chamber since 1999. Like Jon Thorn and Vic Grimes from the National Apprenticeships Service (NAS), I also used to work at SOLOTEC (South London Training & Enterprise Centre). Our Chamber is accredited to a national network of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), and they champion business issues from the ground up. 


Kent Channel Chamber works closely with other Chambers across the South East and a few years ago these Chambers met up with the NAS to work with and promote Apprenticeships to employers in the South East. The key questions we asked were how we could help to promote Apprenticeships, and what funds were available to support and market the programme.  Unfortunately NAS had no government funds available for marketing and had invested in their own personnel who were responsible largely for visiting only the larger employers across the South East.


In my 13 years’ experience in the Channel Chamber, I am privileged to have close links to schools and FE colleges in the area, as well as JobCentre Plus, training providers, the voluntary and community sectors and the careers service.  I also have key links with the County Council and District Councils, whose Economic Development departments also have an interest in promoting the Apprenticeships programme.  The Chamber of Commerce is at the centre of this apprenticeship network and has long-term, sustainable relationships with all the other organisations listed above. 


As I have said, the majority of businesses in Kent employ fewer than 5 people each, and they are the least involved with the Apprenticeships programme. 


Each Apprentice costs the Government several thousands of pounds a year, but how much of the ‘delivery’ costs go to the employer who is taking on the Apprentice? Perhaps the model is wrong.  We must seek to change and improve the model so the employer becomes the driving force.  Until this happens, Apprenticeships will not be an integral part of the businesses’ training and development plans but need to be.  The Government and the KCC need to rethink how to achieve a more effective Apprenticeships programme, one that is tailored to the majority of local businesses – micro- businesses.

Up to five or six years ago, businesses in Kent were generally doing well, but now the recession has taken hold, many employers in East Kent are facing severe challenges. Many have had to amend their business Plans and I think we too need to change the ‘apprenticeship’ model to get employers on board.


I recall the Apprenticeships programme of the 60’s/70’s.  Employers were very proud of this programme, to run it and own the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

12:00 - 12:45 pm


Interview with Lindsay Jardine, Director of Operations, Kent Association of Training Organisations (KATO) pdf icon PDF 37 KB

Additional documents:


Please introduce yourself and outline the roles and responsibilities that your post involves.

I am the Director of Operations at KATO, which is a network of training providers across Kent and Medway which includes providers from 6 FE colleges. 30of our training providers deliver Apprenticeships.  KATO seeks to support providers and works with the National Apprenticeships Service (NAS), Skills Funding Agency, Local Authorities, Education Funding Agency, Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, JobCentre Plus and schools.  KATO provides a voice for providers to influence change at local, regional and national levels.  KATO’s main focus is working to support the Apprenticeship Agenda of national government, reduce NEET and support growth and a skilled work force in Kent.


It’s been very useful to hear what previous speakers in this session have said.  I have taken some good notes!  To respond to points made by Peter Hobbs: firstly, the key point of the reports by the Holt review, Heseltine and Richard is that young people need to have employability skills and good quality information, advice and guidance (IAG), and secondly, Peter seems to be saying that training providers are too well-rewarded.  Training providers don’t get as much funding as Peter indicated – it’s about £3,000 to £4,000 per 16–18-year-old and £1,500 to £2,000 per 19-year-old. If you used the example of an Apprenticeship in Business Admin or Customer Services, of course, the other end of the scale for engineering is substantially higher but the programme takes considerably longer.


While employers don’t seem to get much obvious financial reward, they do gain a young person who can benefit their organisation and business and become a valued member of staff and potential manager of the future.  A good Apprenticeship provider will work with an employer to get a placement right to meet the employer’s need.  There are three types of Apprenticeships – intermediate, advanced and higher, which will link to and lead to professional qualifications.  Many people do not recognise this range, so we need to emphasise this and promote it more effectively.


Apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds must last for a minimum of a year, but in many cases for longer periods of up to four years.  It is a considerable commitment for any employer to take on, and therefore it is always encouraged that employers sustain the individual in employment afterwards.


Peter Davies (NAS) - Funding depends on the age group of the Apprentice.  I can supply the Committee with some figures.


We do need to be clear of the figures involved.  This would be a good question to ask the Skills Funding Agency.


Peter Davies (NAS) - You’d need to find a global figure.


KATO’s network is smaller, so we will give the select Committee some figures as well.


The Select Committee would need to be able to see the costs of Apprenticeships against the effectiveness of them.  The economics of the picture are important – eg the increased earning potential that someone will have from  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.