The annual week-long celebration of apprenticeships across England is now in full swing. For the first time, it has been extended to include the weekend, providing more opportunities for people to get involved. The theme for 2020 is ‘Look Beyond’, encouraging people to look beyond the outdated stereotypes surrounding apprenticeships. Celebrating the diversity of opportunity and value that they bring to the country today, from highlighting the wide range of industries and roles available, to the talent and energy apprentices can bring into the workforce.
Keith Smith, Apprenticeships Director, Education and Skills Funding Agency/Department for Education said National Apprenticeship Week provides the “opportunity to recognise the importance of apprenticeships and their impact. National Apprenticeship Week also enables employers, providers, partners and apprentices themselves to creatively celebrate what apprentices achieve and the impact they have locally, regionally and nationally.”
Throughout the 13 years since it was established, National Apprenticeship Week has brought together supporters from across the country with MPs, ambassadors, apprentices, training providers and top employers involved to recognise the value and importance of apprenticeships.
The Government’s vision to improve the quality of apprenticeships and ensure they work for businesses of all sizes, has led to the opening of the Apprenticeships Service for all businesses starting from January this year. This means that there are now over 2 million SMEs in England that have a choice in the way they engage with apprenticeships. Due to this change, SMEs that do not pay the Apprenticeships Levy are able to make a more informed decision about taking on apprentices.
The Apprenticeship Intermediary Service is a centralised support service, delivered by National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR) in partnership with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). It was designed to help Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), and other small business intermediaries throughout England, understand how this change impacts SMEs. Hertfordshire LEP have pledged their support and are able to provide practical advice to as many SMEs as possible about how to use the Apprenticeships Service.
In 2018, Hertfordshire LEP recognised the need for students, employers and training providers to be able to access advice and guidance about qualifications and apprenticeships all via one portal. Hertfordshire Opportunities Portal (HOP) launched to market in November 2019, enabling students, employers and residents to ‘HOP’ into all the resources they need to make informed career decisions and build a future talent pipeline. HOP will enable employers to reach and recruit their future talent, as well as upskill and provide progression opportunities for existing staff.
Apprenticeships and skills provision, which form the backbone of the Governments Industrial Strategy, continue to be a significant part of the economic agenda. The benefits of a thriving apprenticeships system are clear, with research from the National Apprenticeship Service showing that 96% of SMEs that take on an apprentice report benefits to their business. Those apprentices that they take on, in turn, are getting hands-on experience to enable them to make a real impact in the workforce.
The Hertfordshire Growth Hub, as the central point of access for business support in the county, assesses SMEs needs and recommends pathways for them to seek the guidance and resources which are right for them. Through developing strong relationships with partners, the Growth Hub is able to help establish programmes and initiatives within the county, that are dedicated to helping SMEs grow and develop. The Growth Hub is working together with the Hertfordshire LEP to aid in establishing HOP as a premier gateway, enabling employers to reach and recruit their future talent in the form of apprenticeships.
Hertfordshire Growth Hub is delivered, on behalf of Hertfordshire LEP, by a consortium led by Exemplas with the University of Hertfordshire and Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce. Find out how the Hertfordshire Growth Hub supports SMEs in the county.