As part of National Apprenticeships Week, Liverpool City Region has published its Apprenticeship Growth Plan setting out how it will increase the number of apprenticeships over the next three years.
The plan sets out the city region’s aspiration to deliver 20,000 apprenticeships per year by 2020.
This ambitious target is in spite of figures showing a sharp fall in the number of apprenticeship starts nationally, following the introduction of the funding reforms, including the Government’s flagship Apprenticeship Levy policy. The number of national starts dropped by 41% – a fall of 111,000 new starters – in the first six months since the introduction of the funding reforms.
Councillor Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council and Combined Authority Portfolio Holder for Skills, said, “Ensuring that local people have the skills needed to be successful is vital both for their future prosperity and that of the city region as a whole.
“Apprenticeships are a hugely important part of that process and we intend to ensure that many more are available across our City Region.
“As a Combined Authority, we commissioned this plan to create the right environment to grow the volume and breadth of apprenticeships available locally.
“The plan sets out how we will support colleges and providers to better respond to local skills needs and support more employers to understand and access high-quality and relevant provision.”
Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, said:
“This plan sets out how we will work with our partners, including colleges, other training providers and employers, to increase the range of gold-standard and degree level apprenticeships available in the city region.
“We are broadly supportive of reforms of apprenticeships but there are clearly issues with the Apprenticeship Levy which is simultaneously costing businesses more and delivering fewer apprenticeships.
“We need Government to be more flexible. For example, I have repeatedly lobbied government to allow us to use residual local apprenticeship levy to increase the number of apprenticeships, by providing us with the flexibility to design opportunities to address skill shortage areas and respond to employer demand.
“Even though these initiatives would not have cost the government a single penny, my appeals to date have been steadfastly refused.”
The Plan aims to improve the way the apprenticeship system and reforms work for the City Region and sets out a vision for apprenticeship growth through:
- Increasing the volume of apprenticeships opportunities available;
- Expanding the diversity of frameworks and standards available to residents and employers;
- Improving an apprentice’s ability to progress to higher qualification levels including degrees; and
- Developing a higher standard of quality for apprenticeships offered and delivered.
The key actions to drive apprenticeship programme performance locally include:
- The Combined Authority will explore alternative sources of funding for the Apprenticeship Hub to provide greater stability and allow it to take the lead on the implementation of the Apprenticeship Growth Plan;
- The Combined Authority will launch an Apprenticeship Pledge to gain commitment to apprenticeship growth from public and private sector employers, Colleges and providers and other stakeholders;
- The Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership will facilitate greater employer engagement in the planning and delivery of apprenticeships;
- The Combined Authority will continue to lobby Government as part of ongoing devolution discussions to retain unallocated levy funding within the Liverpool City Region;
- The Combined Authority will seek to commission a capacity building fund via European Social Fund (ESF) to support colleges and providers based in the City Region to establish provision of new standards, test new markets or deliver different sector subject areas than they have previously delivered to City Region residents, to enhance the breath of provision available locally; and
- The Combined Authority will seek to commission, via ESF, a Quality Improvement Fund, providing a package of support for Colleges and providers to improve the quality of apprenticeships.