Medway Council continues to embrace its responsibilities under the Apprenticeship Levy and has again exceeded the accompanying public sector target.
We are proud to have achieved 100 new apprenticeship programme starts between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020, surpassing our 2.3% public sector target again this year.
What actions we've taken to achieve this
- Continuing to resource our Apprenticeship Academy. This means the officers involved can actively promote apprenticeships, wherever and whenever possible. This will generate more awareness and understanding of the opportunities that apprenticeships offer to departments and services.
Apprenticeships can also enable existing staff to progress their professional development and career prospects. These activities have included attendance at local school and college careers events and jobs fairs, and presentations at service manager, department and team meetings.
We have also promoted our Apprenticeship Academy successes. This included case studies, via the council's social media accounts and press reports, especially during National Apprenticeship Week. These activities have generated considerable interest in our apprenticeship offer at Medway Council, and raised a greater awareness and appreciation of the fantastic opportunities we are offering through our apprenticeships.
- Continuing to monitor the new apprenticeship programmes being approved by the IfATE, and promoting these to our many varied teams and departments within the authority. This is to raise awareness of the multitude of career development opportunities available to existing staff.
These actions continue to build on the apprenticeship programme successes of previous years. This is a trajectory we hope to replicate in the forthcoming year.
Challenges we faced in our efforts to meet the target
As an organisation we have not just met, but exceeded, our target. However, we still faced challenges. The target continues to be imposed against our gross headcount figure, not full time equivalent. This gives a false reflection on the size of our workforce and organisational potential to support apprenticeships, especially taking into consideration how many of our staff work low part-time hours (particularly within schools).
It was also a challenge because we need to include our schools workforce in our figures, yet our schools have devolved employer status and can choose to ignore our advice and offer of support for apprenticeships. We have one or two schools who are keen to use apprenticeships. But the others remain largely disinterested despite the continued communication, advice and support offered around apprenticeships by our HR Schools team.
Conversely though, the continuing trend for schools to leave local authority control and take academy status or join clusters with other schools, did mean a reduction in our employee headcount. This resulted in a slight reduction in our 2.3% public sector target figure, which created less of a pressure for recruitment to meet the required target than we have faced in previous years.
Towards the end of the financial year the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic affected apprenticeship recruitment, especially during March. Next year’s figures may reflect the effects of this more.
Coronavirus has also affected the day-to-day corporate support we give our apprentices when we are all working virtually. We set up our monthly Apprentice Forums to run via an online platform. This forum meant that the regular group interactions between all our apprentices were continued. We also send out regular wellbeing updates and questionnaires. These keep communication ongoing and help to mitigate apprentices feeling isolated, or capture any other issues or problems they are facing, that we can help with. These activities have been well received and supported. We hope that our retention of apprentices will not be affected by the current pandemic.
How we're planning to ensure we meet the target in future
We will continue to progress largely in the way that we are currently doing, which is achieving all our organisational apprenticeships aims.
Our strategy to widely promote apprenticeships locally, is enticing young people to consider us as an apprenticeship employer of choice within the region - which is our aspiration. We offer a diverse range of apprentice roles, at all levels, enabling us to grow our own workforce and help us future-proof our organisation.
Our project to engage with our leaving care young people achieved its first successes. And, as the corporate parent, we intend to continue prioritising this initiative, and accelerate support to our young people in the coming year.
Supporting existing staff with career progressing, learning and development pathways, via apprenticeship programmes, has helped us to meet individual professional development aspirations and retain a more motivated and engaged workforce. We will continue to work with our teams and service managers to identify the apprenticeship programmes which will continue to ensure our employees feel valued by this investment in them.
We are looking to actively support the Government’s KickStart programme and offer 16 to 24 year olds the opportunity to come and work with us. We hope this will naturally lead to more young people being received within the organisation and for managers to consider them for future apprenticeship positions, post-placement.
We are forecasting that we will continue to use all our apprenticeship levy monies and exceed our public sector target again next year.
Data for reporting period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020
Number of employees who work in England
- 3,146 working as of 31 March 2019
- 2,616 working as of 31 March 2020
- 510 new employees working with Medway Council between 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020
Number of apprentices who work in England
- 153 apprentices working as of 31 March 2019
- 150 apprentices working as of 31 March 2020
- 100 new apprentices between 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 including new hires and existing employees who started an apprenticeship
- Percentage of apprenticeship starts (new hires and existing employees) as a proportion of employment starts between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020: 19.61%
- Percentage of total headcounts that were apprentices on 31 March 2020: 5.73%
- Percentage of apprenticeship starts (both new hires and existing employees who started an apprenticeship) between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020 as a proportion of total headcount on 31 March 2019: 3.18%