How to embrace the opportunities of apprenticeships, not just reach the target

10 mins read time

As an experienced public sector apprenticeship training provider, we understand how challenging the public sector apprenticeship target can be.

Over the last five years we have supported 17 public sector bodies hit or surpass their target, with some achieving 2.4% above the original target. We believe that everyone should have the chance to better fulfil their potential and share our insights and experience to gain real benefits from apprenticeship training, whilst meeting the public sector target.

Developing and upskilling your internal team.

Apprenticeships are a great way of upskilling your existing workforce. In fact, across many of our public sector partners apprenticeships are used to develop career opportunities for existing employees and provide a real opportunity to provide new and enhanced career opportunities.

Apprenticeships are

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A great way to invest in your employees
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A way to create internal career opportunities
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A way to fund essential qualifications and continued professional development

Many organisations also use higher, degree level apprenticeships to boost senior management staff skills, increasing productivity and efficiencies overall.

Enhancing diversity, inclusion, and social mobility

The Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Report stated that “companies with a more diverse workforce perform better financially. Every 1% increase in the diversity rate of a workforce, can lead to a 9% rise in sales revenue. In short, a diverse workforce makes good business sense.”

Utilising external recruitment to reach disadvantaged and low socio-economic groups is an excellent opportunity for the employers to drive social mobility and build a more inclusive workforce and increasingly employers are reviewing their external recruitment practices. Marrying that with the opportunity to improve access to training for those from disadvantaged backgrounds or underrepresented communities ensures you gain more than just an increase in numbers.

We regularly manage apprentice recruitment campaigns for our Employer Partners, including the Civil Service, which are focused on improving inclusivity and social mobility. For example, recruitment campaigns can target candidates who have not previously had access to training by ensuring those who already hold a degree are not eligible. Instead the application process is heavily based on their behaviours and personality. This means the pool of applicants is more diverse and supports those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Apprenticeships also present a great opportunity to restructure organisational activities and policies, even contributing to wider restructuring plans. For example, there may be longer term targets within your organisation to increase local employment and boost this amongst NEET (young people not in employment or training) groups or those from the BAME community. As is illustrated above, apprenticeships can provide a real chance to do this successfully.

By investing in apprenticeship groups too, your organisation can boost its knowledge and get involved in the community. Groups such as the Apprenticeship Accelerator programme (LGA, a local government association) or the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network will help bring more visibility to your organisation when it comes to apprenticeships and build your internal awareness of these qualifications. Lifetime are a Patron member of the BAME Apprenticeship Alliance and regularly attend public sector group conferences, such as the Social Mobility Commission conference. This means we can advise on industry news, policy changes and initiatives and how these relate to apprenticeships.

Using marketing to bust apprenticeship myths

An increase in apprenticeship starts could also lead to a change in underlying (sometimes negative) perceptions of apprenticeships. It is therefore critical that apprenticeships are embedded into the workforce planning and training providers work with employers to secure senior and line management engagement to ensure learners are fully supported.

Showcasing your organisation's apprenticeship opportunities by using marketing and communications, internally and externally, can raise the profile of apprenticeships, bust any myths and encourage more candidates to apply.

It may be that you face core organisational challenges, which are holding your organisation back. There may be little support for apprenticeships and perceptions around them may be negative.

There is still a lot of work and myth busting to do to demonstrate the real value of apprenticeships but outreach programmes such as events at schools and colleges and engaging with people and sharing success stories and inspiring case studies and sharing data to demonstrate business value and impact does have a significant impact on changing perceptions. Find out how Lifetime Training can help your marketing and recruitment drives.

By focusing the benefits of apprenticeships, you can attract new candidates to roles and inspire your existing workforce too. Showcasing success stories and how an apprenticeship can provide an alternative to traditional career routes will improve confidence and engagement of apprenticeship training as a great option. According to the Research Report 1004, NHS trusts were most likely to have already used this to boost apprenticeship starts.

This is your chance to bust some of those persistent myths and get your organisation up to speed on the benefits of apprenticeships. Sharing this load with training providers is one way, or even other sector organisations who have implemented apprenticeships successfully.

The value of Level 2 Apprenticeships

According to the Research Report 1004, some public sector organisations are concerned around the viability of standards at Level 2 and feel this is holding them back from meeting the target. This is especially true after the removal of the Level 2 Business Administration Framework, with some public sector organisations feeling there would be less options to recruit and no suitable replacement.

To solve this requirement for NHS Trusts, Lifetime Training developed supporting modules to enhance the Customer Service Practitioner Level 2 to become a viable option in replacement of the Business Administrator Level 2 Framework. We are on the Health Education England preferred provider framework for this Standard across all NHS Trusts.

Where your organisation can offer Level 2 apprenticeships like these, there is the chance to open inclusion, diversity and work towards social mobility targets too. Whilst there are still misconceptions about Level 2 apprenticeships not being advanced enough and therefore attracting a ‘riskier’ type of candidate who may not be as committed, it is important to remember that these programmes are the key alternatives to more traditional educational routes such as university.

So not providing Level 2 apprenticeships means you could miss out on a large pool of candidates eager to try an alternative career and those from less advantaged or BAME candidates. When misconceptions are quashed, this is an area where organisations can really boost their apprenticeship starts and meet the target.


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Use off the job training successfully

The required apprenticeship off-the-job-training is an essential part of an apprentices learning journey and ensures they receive dedicated time to focus on their upskilling outside of their day-to-day duties.

This might be a primary concern if you are an NHS Trust or local authority, particularly where this adds pressure to safe staffing numbers and workloads. Working closely with our partners we have developed off the job tool kits that specify the types of activities and training that can be captured as off the job.

It is also important for the trainer to plan these activities out as part of the apprentice's weekly plan, engaging their manager and having the functionality to capture the evidence regularly. This type of structure works effectively and means all relevant parties are looped into the plan.

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Learn from and support other public sector organisations

Working towards the public sector target could be the opening your organisation needs to work with and learn from other public sector organisations. According to the Research Report 1004, sectors that worked collaboratively were able to improve the rate at which they were able to meet the target.

It could be in a multitude of ways, such as sharing knowledge, strategies and processes or even transferring funding. Levy paying employers can transfer as much as 25% of their levy to other organisations to help them fund apprenticeship starts.

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Establish long-term relationships with training providers

There is scope to support your work towards the Public Sector target by working with apprenticeship training providers. According to the Research Report 1004 many organisations who successfully met the target said this had given them an advantage.

Establishing a long-term working agreement with a training provider means that you can tailor and refine your apprenticeship offering and build on your process over time.

However, you could be blocked from forming these links in the first place if common issues around procurement slow the whole process down. Using a variety of procurement hubs helps, widening your net and ensures you have access to the training providers that can support your requirements most effectively.

As an experienced training provider, Lifetime are accepted onto a large variety of procurement hubs and our experienced bid team can provide impartial advice on how to best to navigate and manage them.

The benefits of working with Lifetime

We hope you feel armed with many ways to boost apprenticeship starts in your organisation and work towards meeting the target.

You may be interested in finding out more about how working with a training provider can help you reach this goal. There are lots of benefits, some of which we have outlined above. We can support you with recruitment and marketing drives as well helping you tackle the challenge of off the job training.

Training providers can help ease the pressure your organisation might be experiencing around the rules and regulations of apprenticeships. We can smooth the process for you and help give a structure to the way apprenticeships are handled.

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