A LEADING College in Cornwall is demonstrating that the national dip in Apprenticeship starts does not apply to every institution, with a record number of Apprentices starting their career in 2017, a trend that looks set to continue into 2018.

Truro and Penwith College has seen a steady rise in the number of Cornish employers opting to train new and existing employees via the Apprenticeship route over recent years. Over 200 Apprentices started their training across more than 50 Apprenticeship programmes offered by the College in September 2017, a figure that continues to rise and is already in excess of 300.

The College believes a key reason for this is its adoption of new Apprenticeship standards and employer skills groups, which mean the content of Apprenticeship programmes have been designed in partnership with employers to ensure Apprentices complete with the skills needed to deliver results in the workplace.

The increase in Apprenticeship starts is in stark contrast to national figures, FE Week reported in October 2017 that national starts were down 61% in May, June and July and in November 2017 published new monthly stats that suggested starts were 17% lower than they need to be in order to meet the Government’s 3 million target by 2020. In both instances the DFE suggested the slump was due to employers taking time to assess the impact of the Apprenticeship Levy and plan accordingly.

Tom Moran, Customer Development Manager at Truro and Penwith College, believes one reason the College has increased Apprenticeship starts in this period is the unprecedented level of support offered to its employers. Tom commented “There have been a lot of changes in Apprenticeship training over the last twelve months, our team is constantly growing and we have prioritised consultation with Cornish employers to ensure Apprenticeship training is the right solution for them and any Apprentices that enter their organisation. Many of those that have decided to open vacancies with us have found our Employer Skills Groups invaluable, as these meetings give them the opportunity to shape the content of our training programmes, another step we have taken to ensure results are delivered where it counts, in the workplace”.

The College prides itself on its outstanding provision, with an outstanding pool of talented students who have been training in a range of sectors. With second year students starting to turn their attention to their options after they leave the College and Apprenticeship Week on the horizon in March, the College is kicking off a new round of support for employers as it prepares for its annual Apprenticeship Employer Conference on 23 February.

The Conference will offer talks from the College’s Apprenticeship team, Apprenticeship employers, current Apprentices and workshops to help employers understand Apprenticeship training and how it can deliver results for them in 2018. For the full agenda and to book a place visit; truro-penwith.ac.uk/ApprenticeshipConference.

Tom continued: “We hope to see employers of all sizes and from any sectors on 23rd February, the timing of the event is perfect as it will allow us to offer those that take vacancies forward the opportunity to get involved with Apprenticeship Week activities at the College. Our second years are considering their options now, so we encourage employers who plan to recruit in 2018 to open their vacancies now, to give them the best chance of attracting strong applicants”.

Truro and Penwith College has supported Apprenticeship programmes in more than 30 Engineering companies across Cornwall, and with the government keen to promote careers in Engineering through its ‘2018 the Year of Engineering Campaign’, recently announced that James Gazzard and Spencer Brewer from WES Engineering Solutions will be speaking at the Conference in February.

Although the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and decreased Apprenticeship starts has been met with negative press on a national level, employers that have felt well informed and have taken the plunge into Apprenticeship training have reported significant positive results in the workplace with 76% of employers saying Apprenticeships have made their business more productive (The Guardian 2017). The Centre for Economics and Business Research has also reported that in some sectors, an Apprentice can deliver productivity gains of more than £10,000 a year (2015).

Daniel Hutchings, Operations Manager at WES Engineering Solutions said: “An engineering skills shortage along with a high growth strategy led WES to create a comprehensive Apprenticeship training program with the aim of future proofing the business. Truro and Penwith College gave us a great platform for attracting and harnessing the best young talent within the area, working together to highlight the strongest candidates and helping to develop them into highly skilled engineers.”

Anyone who would like to find out more about Apprenticeship training should contact the College on 01872 242711 or book their place at the College’s Conference on 23 February truro-penwith.ac.uk/ApprenticeshipConference.