Medway Council continues to embrace its responsibilities under the Apprenticeship Levy and has again exceeded the accompanying public sector target.

We're proud to have achieved 76 new apprenticeship programme starts between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022, exceeding our 2.3% public sector target again this year.

What actions we've taken to achieve this

1. 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. We have achieved this by continuing to provide resources and services to our apprentices such as regular monthly forums. We have been able to deliver these virtually and are now starting to return to face-to-face delivery. This is the first year of face-to-face delivery since coronavirus (COVID-19), and we have already found increased interaction through this.

2. Continuing to monitor the new apprenticeship programmes being approved by the IfATE

We will continue promoting these to our many varied teams and departments within the council. 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 once again, 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 must 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 a few 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.

A huge challenge for the entire organisation and the world, was the continuing global pandemic. We had adapted to virtual ways of working to ensure we were still able to offer advice, support and guidance to all those on programme.

We also worked with training providers to ensure we were still able to offer all programmes to our staff who wished to upskill. We continued to use different platforms, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, and we provided guidance on how to use these platforms.

COVID-19 also affected the day-to-day support we corporately gave our apprentices when we were working virtually. We continued delivering the monthly Apprentice Forums via an online platform, ensuring that the regular group interactions between all our apprentices were continued.

We continued to send out regular wellbeing updates and questionnaires, to keep communication on-going and to help to mitigate apprentices feeling isolated. This also helped to capture any other issues or problems they were facing, that we could help with. These activities were well received and supported. 

We are looking forward to the target being removed from this report in the coming year, as we can then showcase our success through our actions and not just our statistics.

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 aims regarding apprenticeships.

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 continues, with some 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.

The organisation is settling into the ‘new normal’, with some face-to-face and office working returning. In the coming year, we are utilising this benefit and making sure we have more positive and engaging interactions with our apprentices, including our graduation ceremony in October. We have plans for National Apprenticeship Week to celebrate our apprentices’ successes over the year, and encourage more interactions across the organisation to promote apprenticeships.

Post COVID-19, we have found that more services wish to recruit apprentices into their team. As a result, we have seen a rise in the numbers of apprentices in apprenticeship posts and continue to expect this throughout the year.

Next year the public sector target is being removed. We will, however, continue to meet our own organisational targets, and we are forecasting that we will continue to use all our apprenticeship levy monies next year.

Data for reporting period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022

Number of employees who work in England

  • 2,992 working as of 31 March 2021
  • 3,075 working as of 31 March 2022
  • 523 new employees working with Medway Council between 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022.

Number of apprentices who work in England

  • 91 apprentices working as of 31 March 2021
  • 128 apprentices working as of 31 March 2022
  • 76 new apprentices between 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 including new hires and existing employees who started an apprenticeship.

Reporting percentages

  • percentage of apprenticeship starts (new hires and existing employees) as a proportion of employment starts between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022: 14.53%
  • percentage of total headcounts that were apprentices on 31 March 2022: 4.16%
  • percentage of apprenticeship starts (both new hires and existing employees who started an apprenticeship) between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022 as a proportion of total headcount on 31 March 2020: 2.60%.