Quarter 2 - September 2018 - Apprentices in West Sussex
There has been a drop of 33% in new apprenticeships across West Sussex. Nationally, new apprenticeships has also dropped by 33% and the South East average has dropped by 27.9%. Reasons for the downturn are varied and include the move from Apprenticeship Frameworks to Apprenticeship Standards, the lack of available new standards and new sub-contracting rules going live from January 1st, making it difficult for good, niche providers to continue to deliver.
Quarter 2 - September 2018 - West Sussex County Council Apprentices
We are 6 months into our 2018/19 apprenticeship year. As part of the Apprenticeship Levy, we have a public sector target for new apprenticeships, which this year is 114 apprentices across our Corporate, Adults’ and Children’s services and 199 across our School provision, making a total of 313.
Since April 2018 we have gained traction and are supporting both our staff and newly recruited apprentices to develop their skills and professional qualifications across a whole range of subject areas.
We support services to identify relevant published apprenticeship standards for our staff, address queries around qualification structure and content and develop proposals for Care Leavers, in addition to marketing, promoting and raising awareness around apprenticeships to existing staff through a range of channels both written and face to face.
To support schools in making the best use of the Levy, the Council has a dedicated role to help schools to understand how apprenticeships would benefit them and how to access the funding. This role, alongside a project plan and rolling promotional communications is proving successful as the number of apprenticeships in schools triple compared with 2016/17.

We have also recently submitted out 17/18 data to the Education & Skills Funding Agency as Follow:

ESFA Public Sector Target Report
1.   Outline any actions you have taken to help you progress towards meeting the public sector target.
The creation of the Apprenticeship Levy Working Group has directed WSCC’s Apprenticeship Scheme and has received ‘buy in’ from Directors and the Senior Leadership Team (SLT). Our L&D Commissioners dedicate part of their role to facilitating regular discussions with all services to understand their workforce development needs and identify apprenticeship opportunities, procurement of apprenticeship training providers, monitoring and evaluating tenders, developing systems, processes and the infrastructure to monitor and manage the council’s Apprenticeship levy Programme. Other major activities include: identifying relevant published and unpublished standards/frameworks, addressing queries around qualification structure and content, developing proposals for Care Leavers, implementation of an apprenticeship marketing strategy promoting apprenticeships to existing staff through a range of channels both written and face to face.
2.   Tell us about any challenges you have faced in your efforts to meet the target
Managers request breakdowns of the 20% off the job requirements when standards are published – this isn’t always easy to establish and means services have raised concerns over covering operational capacity.
Lack of content details and expected timescales of standard in development are also barriers e.g. the delay in publishing the Occupational Therapy and Social Worker standards has impeded progress in meeting the target and spending the levy.
Administrative infrastructure to run the scheme is complex and can suffer delays. The set-up of the supporting infrastructure has been time and labour intensive.
The Register of Approved Training Providers – set up by the Education & Skills Agency - was delayed and this resulted in delays in setting up procurement systems consequently delaying some starts.
Despite marketing and promotion there is still a residual myth that apprenticeships are only for young people.
 
3.   How are you planning to ensure you meet the target in future?
A 3-year plan for the scheme has been created, linking workforce development and service priorities. It includes a refreshed marketing plan which will target myth busting and advertise Apprenticeships both internally and externally, and on a wider scale as our employees are spread out in location.
Work has already started to map apprenticeship standards, when they are published, with roles in WSCC. Using this mapping our HR Business Partners and Learning & Development Commissioners will be better able to support services in identifying apprenticeship roles.
We are working on myth busting the 20% requirement by developing case studies of apprentices that are currently undertaking training. This information will be presented to managers to help alleviate fears about operational capacity.
WSCC has created an Apprenticeship Governance Board to monitor and review progress towards the target and support addressing barriers where they exist.
WSCC plans to create training for managers of apprentices and also a network for them to share good practice. It will be a place to resolve arising issues that managers are facing.
We are participating in a trailblazer for a Level 2 Business Support apprenticeship and considering other trailblazers that could help increase starts.
4.   Anything else to share?
Currently due to delay with some standards being published WSCC is having to pay twice to fund qualifications. For example, we sponsor some Occupational Therapy and Social Work degree courses each year and this year we should have been able to fund them via the Levy but are still not able to do so. For a local authority seeking to make savings this is not a good position to be in.
We have achieved Employer provider status and based on our excellent track record of delivering qualifications want to be able to transition over to the delivery of apprenticeship standards but setting up the infrastructure to do so is a huge task and the Levy doesn’t provide any funding support to do this.
The Apprenticeship Levy has required employers to take on a role that previously sat with education/training providers. To be expected to develop the skills, infrastructure and quality management of such a system alongside recruiting apprentices to the programme in year 1 was a challenging expectation.
Schools Apprenticeship Target 2017/18
Q1 Challenges Faced by us
West Sussex has 284 schools, of which 170 are maintained. Staff in maintained schools are employed by WSCC and on the same payroll. As WSCC has a pay bill greater than £3m pa, schools became eligible to pay the Apprenticeship Levy irrespective of their individual size. Our schools employ about 65% of the overall County Council workforce and collectively they pay about three quarters of the total Council levy. 
.         The combined target for WSCC apprentices is 313
·        The target share for West Sussex schools is approximately 199 apprenticeship starts per annum.  
·        Schools achieved 24 starts during this reporting period April 17-March 18
Many schools lack capacity, resources to release their existing workforce and the budget to create new apprenticeships as the levy can only be used to pay for training, not the wages of apprentices. WSCC schools are subject to ongoing financial pressure being one of the lowest funded counties. 
The target is unrealistic for schools, they employ a predominantly part time workforce.  This pushes up their headcount and the hours for some of their roles are too few for an apprenticeship meaning it is difficult for them to achieve.  Some employees work in multiple jobs e.g. grounds, catering, lunchtime supervisor where an apprenticeship would not be suitable.  If the target was based on FTE, not headcount, the actual target for schools would be 143.  This would better reflect the schools ability to recruit and make use of apprenticeships.  The part time nature of their jobs impacts upon the future capacity of our schools as current Apprentices have extended periods of study compared to those who work full time reducing their turnover of starts.
The financial year saw few apprenticeship standards available which are relevant to schools meaning a further impact on start potential.
Q2      Actions taken to help us make progress towards meeting the target
Many schools have a very limited knowledge about apprenticeships or the time capacity to understand them.  To help counter this, the Council funded a dedicated role to help schools understand how apprenticeships would benefit them, carry out necessary procurement and give them access to funding in the digital account.  This role, alongside a project plan and rolling promotional communications proved successful as the number of apprenticeships in schools triple compared with 2016/17.  We can confirm we have already exceeded starts in schools in the 2018/19 financial year which demonstrates we are making a difference.  Traction is slow due to the mitigating factors previously outlined and remains a long way off meeting the expected target.
Q3.  How are we planning to ensure it is met in the future?
More recently some new standards have become available such as School Business Professional, which is attracting more schools to apprenticeships.  We have introduced a pilot programme which has had good take up and will hopefully grow in number in the future.  By School Business Professionals studying an apprenticeship, this should open doors in schools for other apprenticeships.
We are participating in a trailblazer for a Level 2 Business Support apprenticeship and considering other trailblazers that could help increase starts overtime.
Q4.     Anything else to share?
The complexity surrounding the new post graduate Teaching degree apprenticeship meant although initially of interest to schools, most declined participation.  So long as other routes are deemed more prestigious and cost effective for schools, apprenticeship numbers will continue to remain low for this new standard.  This will have an impact on our ability to meet the schools target next year as only two out of a potential 20 schools chose the apprenticeship route.
There is no undergraduate entry teacher apprenticeship being developed which would be very welcomed by our primary schools and really help WSCC to meet the target.
May 2018
Apprentices in WSCC
We have begun a new apprenticeship year at the Council under the new Apprenticeship Levy Programme. Our public sector target for the year is 130 apprentices across our Corporate, Adult and Children’s services and 230 across our School provision.  Across Corporate, Adult & Children’s Services the focus is on apprenticeships such as:
  • Digital Technology Solutions
  • Business Administration
  • Senior Leaders (MBA)
  • Children’s & Young Peoples Workforce
  • Senior Housing Officer
  • Chartered Manager
  • Adult Care Worker
  • Associate Project Manager
  • Commercial Procurement Officer
  • Data Analyst
  • Senior Production Chefs
The recent focus for schools is promoting the new apprenticeship standards which have been approved and relevant to them:
  • School Business Professional Level 4
  • Post Graduate Teaching Degree
  • Senior Leaders MBA (Educational Leadership pathway).
We are working with our corporate services and schools to secure the training providers needed to deliver these qualifications.  

February 2018 performance

Apprentices in WSCC
We continue to increase the number of apprenticeships taken up across our Corporate Services and our Schools (an increase of 15 over the previous month and an 25% increase on January 2017) We are using a number of campaigning tools to incite interest, raise awareness, bust some myths and increase take up, for example hosting an information session to promote the new Teaching post graduate degree apprenticeship, attending Senior Leadership Team Meetings, Head Teacher and Business Manager Briefings and running a series of roadshows around the County for our employees and managers.

We have also been sourcing providers to deliver our apprenticeship requirements and ensuring they are signed up to our Dynamic Purchasing System and able to deliver our requirements.

We are still waiting for key apprenticeships to be finalised that are of particular interest to us as a Local Authority and these are:

  • Social Work degree
  • Occupational Therapy degree
  • Civil Engineering Level 4

The Senior Strategic Leaders (MBA) Level 7 Masters level degree has very recently been approved and we are now waiting for university providers to give us dates of when they will be ready to deliver.

We continue to have challenges associated with bringing in the new apprenticeship arrangements – including some of the key new apprenticeship standards not yet being available (see above), the funding crisis in our schools, procurement timelines and the need for managers to release their apprentices for 20% off the job training.

Quarter 3 December 2017 performance

Apprentices in WSCC (Oct 17-Jan 18)

In April 2017 the Government introduced a number of apprenticeship reforms as part of its ambition to create an additional 3 million apprenticeship starts in England, by 2020, and in doing so, develop vocational skills, increasing the quantity and quality of the apprenticeship experience. West Sussex County Council has been transitioning over to the new apprenticeship arrangements which mean that public sector bodies can now plan and fund apprenticeship qualifications for their staff ranging from level 2 (equivalent to GCSE level) qualifications right up to degree and masters level apprenticeships.

A number of new Apprenticeship Standards are being developed which will provide greater opportunities for public sector apprentices when they come on-stream. Several of these standards will be very important in filling skills shortages within the Council in many occupational skills shortage areas such as Teachers, Occupational Therapists, Civil Engineers and Social Workers to name but a few. The development of these standards has had much greater involvement from employers who have been actively involved in developing the new apprenticeship standard qualifications.

We have continued our apprentices from the 2016/2017 from the old framework and have also signed up a number of apprentices under the new arrangements in areas such as business administration, assistant accountancy, project management, fire vehicle maintenance and town planning. 
As the new Apprenticeship Standards,which are still in development, become approved, we are confident that many more staff and new apprentices will be able to take up further opportunities over the coming year. These will contribute to the professionalization and upskilling of our workforce enabling and supporting them to continuously develop and improve the delivery of effective services to our local community.
Under the new apprenticeship reforms the Council’s target for apprentices has changed. As a public sector body we are required to deliver circa 360 apprentices per annum across our organisation.
Challenges associated with bringing in the new arrangements – including some of the key new apprenticeship standards not yet being available, the funding crisis in our schools, procurement timelines and the need for managers to release their apprentices for 20% off the job training mean that we have a way to go to meet our target but we anticipate a rise in the uptake of training over the course of 2018/2019 as more new Standards are approved which we can actively use.
In preparation for these developments the Learning & Development Commissioning team:
  • Have met with all Directors to brief them and their managers of the opportunities that are or will become available for their directorates
  • Have identified apprenticeship training opportunities for each directorate
  • Have met with all Schools and a number of Boards of Governors
  • Identified appropriate training opportunities for Schools
  • Provided information to directorate He Consultants in order for workforce planning to take place that encompasses the take up of apprenticeship training
  • Are working with Communications & Engagement to develop a promotional campaign for all staff and managers so the training offer reaches everyone.

Quarter 2 - September 2017 performance

Apprentices in WSCC

This quarters figures dropped in July and August and subsequently grew in September to their highest level for almost a year. They are yet to rise further as the year progresses and it is extremely likely this measure will be met throughout the year. The County Council has been procuring Apprenticeship Training providers in order to spend its new Apprenticeship Levy fund for Apprenticeship training and this new way of investment is having a positive impact on our take up of apprenticeships. The fund can be used to pay for apprenticeship training for existing employees which should see a rise in the number of existing employees in both council and school services who study a professional qualification using this route. More apprenticeship training pathways are being developed and becoming available to employers which will also help us to grow our apprenticeship offer in both schools and corporate. An Officer has been designated to work with schools for a year to encourage their engagement with apprenticeships which aims to see an increase in the number of Apprentices working for them.

Quarter 1 - June 2017 performance

The county council’s Apprenticeship numbers have remained steady for this quarter and are as we expected with little change/ growth. The County Council has been focused on its preparation for the apprenticeship levy go live. These preparations include the set-up of a new procurement system for apprenticeship training and a new staff structure to support apprenticeships into the future. The structure includes a role dedicated to supporting schools in the county as the area who employ the largest percentage of our workforce. The new procurement system went live at the end of June and we have started to submit tenders for apprenticeship training providers to deliver the qualifications we require. We will bring news on the results of this exercise in the next quarter when it is hoped our Apprentice numbers are starting to increase.
Background
WSCC Apprentices
As one of the largest employers in the county, the County Council has an important role to play in leading by example to demonstrate the benefits of apprenticeships to a range of stakeholders.
We offer a diverse range of Apprenticeships such as Care, HR, Legal, Engineering. Apprenticeships are really helping us to develop our business, Apprentices bring fresh ideas and help us experience new technology to the organisation. 85% of those who completed their apprenticeship have moved into paid employment helping to evidence apprenticeships work and give real economic benefit. As the County Council’s workforce size shrinks and our service provision is outsourced, the impact of the County Council’s apprenticeship programme reduces. It is therefore important, as we commission services, to realistically build apprenticeships and employment and skills initiatives into contractual requirements in order we can maintain the benefit apprenticeships can bring to the local economy.
View our WSCC Apprenticeship pages where you can find out information and view all the latest West Sussex Apprenticeship vacancies. Watch our video 'County Council apprentices find gateway to work'

The National Apprenticeship Service is part of the Skills Funding Agency

The County Council has embraced apprenticeships and wishes other employers do likewise. Any businesses new to Apprenticeships can access information and advice from the Apprentice makers website. West Sussex also offers business to business advice to any employer new to Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are a key way of boosting the local economy, through providing training along side paid work opportunities, providing opportunities for skills development all of which can enhance productivity and increase competitiveness of businesses.