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Webinar Q&A: How apprenticeships can help boost workforce diversity

On the 21st September, two senior decision-makers from KPMG and DLA Piper joined Arch’s Sales and Marketing Director, Harry Gooding, to discuss how apprenticeships can help develop a diverse workforce.

Key points discussed in the webinar included how having access to the brightest talent – from all backgrounds – can improve financial results and develop teams that are agile and adaptable to change. When asked how apprenticeships can help fast-track diversity, Martin Blackburn, Head of HR for KPMG said “apprenticeships allow us to access talent that we might not otherwise be able to attract” and the Apprenticeship Levy is “moving it from the right thing to do to an absolute imperative“. We received a flurry of questions during the webinar, and below our panel of experts have answered the key concerns. Read on to see their answers.

Q. Does the panel have experience of working with companies who pay the Apprenticeship Levy but work across the four nations? What sort of challenges have these organisations faced?

Each of the four nations works with separate apprenticeship authorities and are not covered by the Education & Skills Funding Agency. Below are the links for the different nations:

Q. If you have an apprentice who only works term-time, will this mean that the standard length of time to complete the apprenticeships needs to be extended?

If an apprentice has a working week of fewer than 30 hours, the apprenticeship would need to be extended to allow the apprentice enough time to complete their programme.

Q. What are the challenges of trying to convince existing employees with more experience that they should undergo apprenticeship training?

The challenges lie in addressing the misconceptions about what an apprenticeship is. Many people are still under the impression that apprenticeships are targeted towards school or college leavers.

They imagine being stuck in a classroom doing mundane coursework at a college a day a week. Which is the complete opposite of what apprenticeships are now. Apprenticeships vary in levels, from A-Level equivalent to degree apprenticeships, ensuring that whatever level a person is at they will learn something new.

At Arch, our learning occurs in a blended way, including virtual classrooms and our exclusive use of the ePortfolio app Hive Learning. Take a look at the full range of apprenticeships we offer, what they entail and how they can sharpen employees’ existing skills here.

Q. Do apprenticeships refer to all job roles? If not what are the major roles they refer to?

Apprenticeships can be any job role as long as they map to an Apprenticeship Standard. The apprentice would need to have enough responsibilities in their job to support and add to their learning on the programme. At Arch the apprenticeships we offer cover roles in:

You can view the full list of all Government-approved ready to deliver Apprenticeship Standards here. For apprenticeships in industries we don’t cover, we work closely with a group of partners we can recommend.

Q. How does the 20% off-the-job training work?

The 20% off the job training means that at least 20% of the total duration of their apprenticeship must be spent studying, away from their “normal working duties”. Typically, apprentices will spend 15 to 20 days in a classroom, with the rest of their learning delivered via online virtual classrooms. The time spent studying will be paid as a typical working day with their employer.

Q. What tips would you give on developing existing staff using the Apprenticeship Levy?

A huge benefit of the Apprenticeship Levy is that it has opened up opportunities for existing staff to learn new skills. The first step to helping staff understand the true benefits of an apprenticeship is to show them how sophisticated and exciting the programmes are.

The employer and line manager play an important role in helping staff make the decision – employees are more likely to be enthusiastic about taking control of their personal development through apprenticeships if it is a company-wide incentive.

Q. What strategies have been employed to successfully engage with school or college leavers?

We have found that school/college leavers can be some of our most enthusiastic and engaged demographic. They’ve decided to opt-out of the ‘norm’ because they have a genuine passion and interest in the industry and want to get started now. With young apprentices, it’s important to understand that they’re not going to be able to carry out all the job responsibilities straight away. They require training but are quick learners and you’ll be surprised by how fast they’ll develop.

Find out about how you can benefit from apprenticeships and speak to the team today on 020 3906 7116.

Stephanie Khan

Stephanie is a former Marketing Apprentice, and now a Content Marketing Executive at AVADO. Since completing her apprenticeship, she has become an advocate for apprentices and the benefit they bring to businesses. She writes about modern apprenticeships, the levy, and the digital skills crisis.

Posted October 6, 2017