Agenda and draft minutes

Select Committee - Apprenticeships - Friday, 11th January, 2013 9.00 am

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

Contact: Theresa Grayell  01622 694277

Note No. Item

09:00 - 09:45am


Interview with Graham Razey, Principal and Chief Executive, East Kent College (EKC) pdf icon PDF 40 KB

Additional documents:


FINAL version


The Chairman provided an overview of the previous day, which had been the first day of the hearings. During this day Sue Dunn and Richard Little had been interviewed and the KCC point of view presented. Jon Thorn, Peter Hobbs and Lindsay Jardine had also been spoken to. One of the Committee researchers, Mr S Shrimpton, was asked to read out 8 areas of potential recommendation which the Committee was looking at.


Discussing these, the researcher was asked to circulate them to all Members. It was given as important that the definition of a ‘job’ and ‘apprenticeship’ be clarified in the report, with the latter being a form of paid employment while the apprenticeship lasted. Committee staff were also asked to circulate the presentation given the previous day to Members.


It was discussed that the Committee was waiting for confirmation from West Kent College (WKC) about the opportunity to speak to apprentices. Mr Razey made the offer for the Committee to speak to apprentices at EKC as well as or instead of WKC if it did not prove possible.


The Chairman also announced he was likely to have the chance to speak to BT and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. A Member of the Committee commented that improving the skills to work in the manufacturing sector was the key to economic recovery.


The Chairman also said that one surprise from the previous day was the role of Ofsted. Dr Ian Craig was given as someone to speak to and a Member reminded the Committee that Mr Leeson had worked at Ofsted so would be another route to this organisation.


Please introduce yourself and outline your roles and responsibilities.

I have been in the FE sector for 19 years, beginning as a maths teacher. During all of this time I have worked in the South East. While I took the conventional academic route, my father, brother and grandfather have all been engineering apprentices. Rising from lecturer to Principal, I started at EKC when it was known as Thanet College.


EKC has 5,000 students, 400 staff and employs apprentices directly. It has a £15 million turnover. It is the smallest FE College in Kent, but would be categorised as a medium sized College by national standards.


My post involves being the guardian for further education in East Kent. It is a community-based college and the role of FE is to bring education to those not having the opportunity in the past and the enrolment stretches from school leavers to an 84 year old. EKC focuses on reaching the hardest to reach. This poses Ofsted challenges when certain results are demanded. EKC does not do A-levels. It covers pre-GCSE Level 1 skills, L2 (GCSE) skills, L3 and up to L4 skills, equivalent to higher education.


Please talk to us about the benefits of apprenticeships.

The purpose of apprenticeships is technical expertise. It is a route to being a master craftsman in the manufacturing, productive, creative  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

10:00 - 10:45 am


Interview with Tony Allen, Director, Area Relationship Team South East, Skills Funding Agency pdf icon PDF 40 KB

Additional documents:


FINAL version

  1. Themes and questions had been forwarded in advance to Mr Allen in preparation for the meeting.
  2. The Chairman and Select Committee welcomed Mr Allen to the meeting and explained the scope of the Select Committee.
  3. The Chairman invited Mr Allen to give a brief introduction on his role and explain the services of the Skills Funding Agency (SFA).
  4. Mr Allen explained the following:
  • The SFA was co-terminus with LEP.
  • SFA was borne out of the Learning and Skills Council.
  • SFA’s role was to fund post 19 years Education (Except universities).
  • SFA funded apprenticeships, Adult Education and Community Learning and supported people getting back into work.
  • SFA sat within Department fro Business Innovation and Skills
  • SFA operated on behalf of the DfE, funding for all apprenticeships for 16 – 18 year olds.
  • SFA Budget was £3 billion nationally; Kent received between £90 – 100 million per annum, the majority of which was spent on apprenticeships, and the remainder on other work based learning, Adult Education, Community Learning and supporting people getting back into work. 
  • The SFA delivered its budget through a network of FE Colleges and Private Training Providers.
  • The FE Colleges - There were 6 FE Colleges in Kent and there were also a number of Private Providers delivering to learners in the county.
  • In Kent, Mr Allen managed 35 training providers. He explained that there were 1000 directly contracted Providers nationally, and 2000 sub-contractors who delivered training. Many of these national training providers delivered in the county, with over 300 providers delivering in Kent. He gave an example of how this worked saying that Newcastle College had employers based in Kent.  This was a complex picture across Kent.   Graham Razey, Principal of East Kent College, would, as well as in East Kent, deliver training to apprentices in other parts of the country
  • Mr Allen explained that under the last Government there were national targets not only for Apprenticeships, but also for Level 2 qualifications and Basic Skills etc. The Coalition Government had abolished most of these targets, (with the exception of Apprenticeships). The budgets for 16-18 learners and 19+ learners were not interchangeable, as they came from two different government departments.  


  1. Q – Were there any payments made by results?


  1. Mr Allen advised that and element of the rate paid to a provider was paid on results. This related to learners who were unemployed, and was earned by the provider if they were successful in assisting a learner in finding a job.  Mr Allen explained the system of providers being paid by a funding rate, dependent upon the type of qualification. He gave the example of IT at level 3 – SFA paid the Provider £14,000 to deliver the qualification.  The rate was paid on a monthly profile, dependent upon how long the provider estimated it would take the learner to complete the qualification. An element was based on the learner successfully completing the qualification.  A substantial part of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

11:00 - 11:45 am


Interview with Paul Winter, Managing Director, Wire Belt Company Ltd, Sittingbourne pdf icon PDF 40 KB

Additional documents:


FINAL version

1.       Themes and questions had been forwarded in advance to Mr Winter in preparation for the meeting.


2.       The Chairman and Select Committee welcomed Mr Winter to the meeting and explained the scope of the Select Committee.


3.       The Chairman invited Mr Winter to give a brief introduction on his role and explain the services.


4.       Mr Winter explained that he had achieved an HND undertaking a sandwich course (effectively a higher apprenticeship) and later in his career qualified as an Accountant. He had always worked in industry.  He raised the following points on the Wire Belt Company Limited:


·        Wire Belt Company exported 70% of its output.

·        Wire Belt Company broke into Germany 12 years ago by buying a German company that was failing.  Mr Winter became Managing Director at the time but now a young employee had taken over that role.  There were 34 full time employees based in Germany.

·        In Sittingbourne there were 65 employees; 7 apprentices, (3 mechanical engineers studying for BTEC, 2 welder fabricators studying City and Guilds and 2 office administration / customer service undertaking NVQ level 3.


5.       In reply to a question, Mr Winter advised that the education system was different in Germany.  The pupils remained in school until they were qualified but spending a significant amount of time undertaking work experience.


6.       Q - What drives you to have apprentices?

7.       Mr Winter advised that employees with good quality skills were being poached from his company so he put policies in place for Wire Belt to grow.  He quickly understood that the company could use apprenticeships strategically.  An apprentice would stay with the company to gain a level 3 and above qualification.  Wire Belt paid above average to those advance apprentices.  45% of the positions at level 3 and above within Wire Belt Company are held by former apprentices or other trainees who joined directly from full time education.  These were not all at shop floor level.  There are positions held in marketing, bought ledger accounting and IT all of whom have joined the company from school.


8.       Q- How has funding changed over the years?

9.       Mr Winter advised that more and more funding had been pushed onto  companies’ shoulders.  Wire Belt Company, over time, was investing more, which he considered was acceptable, but generally, as all companies are exposed to more and more cost, it will restrict training activity.


10.  Q- How do you recruit?

11.  Mr Winter advised that there were horror stories but did not want to elaborate but said that there were bad choices made in the past.  The system for taking on apprentices has been developed over 10 years.  Until recently they have offered work experience for 2 weeks pre 16 years fitting in with the schools curriculum and this has guided the right people into manufacturing.  The 2 weeks of work experience is treated as an extended interview where their numeracy and soft skills such as getting to work on time  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.