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Partnership Model Encouraged For Apprenticeship Success

27 January 2015

Partnership Model Encouraged For Apprenticeship Success

Ahead of National Apprentices Week in March 2015, Develop Training is highlighting how utilities companies can address long-term skills shortages through bespoke, managed, apprenticeship programmes - a versatile, cost-effective and highly successful means of bringing new recruits into the industry or retraining experienced practitioners seeking a career change.

With the Energy and Utility Skills estimating that half of current employees will leave the power, gas, water and waste management industries by 2023, as many as 200,000 recruits will be needed. Yet whilst apprenticeships form a key part of the Government's economic strategy recent statistics suggest that there has actually been a year-on-year fall in apprenticeships. Develop Training believes that third-party partnerships with specialist training providers can help to curb this downward trend.

Third-party partnerships

"Given the complexity of funding, teaching methods and other variables, many employers are unsure how to get the best out of the programmes, but that needn't be the case," explains John Kerr, Operations Director of Develop Training."

"The Government's commitment to Trailblazer Apprenticeships provides a robust and practical means of boosting skills in the workforce, and the potential is there for employers to have greater control in the planning and implementation of apprenticeship schemes."

"The key is to seek guidance to optimise those schemes to address an individual company's specific skills gaps, and that is where specialists like Develop Training can help."

Extensive experience in apprenticeship programmes

Develop Training has extensive experience in the facilitation and delivery of apprenticeships, having delivered more than 1,000 programmes for key clients including Scotia Gas Networks (SGN), Scottish Water and GTC, with retention and success rates of over 95%. The company is currently involved in the design and implementation of Trailblazer schemes and offers a number of apprenticeships in gas, water and business.

Develop Training is capable of delivering apprenticeship schemes within nationally recognised frameworks, all of which provide high quality on-site and off-site training backed by rigorous independent assessment, to help clients create and maintain a highly-skilled workforce. These programmes are designed to be able to meet the new requirements for Government funding.

Crucially, Develop Training's independence and expertise enables the firm to tailor completely bespoke apprenticeships that are blended from the most appropriate elements of other diverse schemes and programmes. "We always take a 'personal shopper' approach to building apprenticeships," confirms John Kerr. "We never offer off-the-shelf solutions. We first take the time to understand our customers' businesses so that programmes can meet their organisational needs."

Working with you to improve your skills

The company's ethos is based on a partnership model in which Develop Training supports employers and apprentices alike, in a learning framework that is sensitive to each party's needs, while being streamlined for a mutually beneficial end result. "Partnership applies equally to the employer and the apprentice. Our approach is to take a highly individualised view of our clients' requirements, and to tailor our training recommendations accordingly - a school leaver will obviously have a very different learning curve to somebody already well into their career," John comments.

There is a significant trend towards retraining. "Apprenticeships have been seen historically as the preserve of school leavers, but in today's competitive and fast-moving working environment, an apprentice is just as likely to be an experienced practitioner in one field making a career change, or expanding their knowledge to meet skills gaps elsewhere; many of these apprentices can be recruited from an existing workforce," John explains.

Cost effective training platforms

The availability of e-learning platforms - such as the City & Guilds Learning Assistant - provides further flexibility, enabling Develop Training to monitor and manage the apprenticeship process in a cost-effective and highly organised manner. "Generally, we only spend face-to-face time with apprentices on a few occasions each year, with the bulk of interaction taking place online," confirms John Kerr. "Not only does this keep down the costs of apprenticeship programmes, but it also means that apprentices spend less time off-site."

Apprenticeships vary in length, although most are offered over 2-4 years dependent on their complexity. In addition to regularly supporting apprentices, Develop Training manages the administration of the schemes and liaises with third party organisations such as the Sector Skills Council, and awarding organisations, to ensure rigorous compliance with national standards. Develop Training's delivery team is made up of skilled trainers and approved independent assessors, operating within a rigorous environment that meets and often exceeds current industry standards.

Our clients and service

Scotia Gas Networks (SGN), for example, is one customer reaping the benefits of using Develop Training for their apprenticeship needs. "We have worked with Develop for many years and the success rate is phenomenal. Not only that, but the programme is regularly reviewed so that it can evolve to meet our changing business needs; Develop's expertise has been integral to our ability to anticipate future requirements and avoid a skills gap," confirms Neil Snell of Scotia Gas Networks.

With nearly 300 people currently taking or having recently completed the programme, the framework devised by Develop Training has helped Scotia Gas Networks to become one of the UK's top 100 employers for apprenticeships.

"We believe that we can help any employer to improve the quality and achievement rate of their apprenticeship scheme by removing administrative burdens, recommending optimum course components and delivering high-quality training and assessment," concludes John Kerr. "The result: employers can concentrate on developing their apprentices into skilled and valuable members of their workforce."

For more information on Apprenticeships click here, or call us on 0800 876 6708.

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