At the start of February 2023, staff at City College Plymouth marked National Apprenticeship Week – an annual event that highlights the benefits of this earn-while-you-learn route into work for both apprentices and employers.
The College has hundreds of apprentices-in-waiting on its books ready to join local employers when the right opportunity arises; and whilst the College continued to promote this as a route into work for both school-leavers and career changers, Director of Apprentices and Employer Services, Jamie Rowley says its important to highlight other benefits of apprenticeships.
Apprenticeships have shown time and time again to be the solution to a variety of challenges for businesses, and upskilling current staff is an avenue worth exploring, especially for those employers who are finding their vacancies going unfilled. It is also a cost-effective way of providing continued professional development to current employees who will appreciate the opportunity to gain new qualifications and improve their skill set.
Knowing all too well the benefits this can bring to an organisation, the College has staff across various departments completing apprenticeships alongside roles they’ve held for years.
Strategic Events and Stakeholder Engagement Officer Kirsty Dingley, who is a familiar face among the business community having worked in an employer-facing role at the College for the past six years, is technically an apprentice at this moment in time.
Kirsty explained: “I’ve been working in administration for quite a few years, but I’ve never had the opportunity to consolidate the skills I’ve learnt with a formal qualification.
“I didn’t do A Levels or a technical qualification after leaving school, so my highest level of qualification was my GCSEs. Whilst I’ve been lucky to find a good career, I always felt disappointed in myself to not have something else to add to my CV, especially when I push the importance of these qualifications on my sons.
“The College offered me the opportunity to complete a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Business Administration and it has given me a great insight into how I carry out certain tasks. Whilst I have no intention of leaving the College, I’m pleased to get the chance to gain this qualification as it gives me more options in the future for further study and to continue my professional development to university-level should I choose.
“I feel valued as a member of staff. The College is investing in me and my future, and giving me the opportunity to gain new skills. Part of any apprenticeship is “off-the-job” training, and this involves gaining experience in roles that aren’t directly related to my current job, but will be useful in the future should my role change or I progress in my career.
“Nothing has really changed in terms of my average day and I’m still on the same salary, but I am given time off to work on my assignments, which have made me more reflective in how I conduct my work.
“Once I’ve completed the level 3, I’m considering progressing to the Level 4 Apprenticeship in Business Administration, which will take a more academic approach to its off-the-job training and will support someone in a management role. Having left school with only GCSEs it’s great having the opportunity to finally gain these qualifications without having to sacrifice any of my salary.”
Employer Solutions Manager, Mike Jones, added: “We have staff across the College gaining new qualifications at a fraction of the cost if they used different routes. The funding provided by the government makes offering staff CPD through apprenticeships extremely cost-effective.
“We have apprentices both here at the College and with businesses throughout the region undergoing university-level qualifications via the apprenticeship route. When you consider the most that an employer will contribute towards the cost of training is £1,350, when you compare this to the £9,000 per year to complete a degree for example, it really makes financial sense to explore the apprenticeship route to provide your business with the latest industry-relevant skills that could encourage growth and help future-proof your organisation.”
Mike and his team are available to work with Chamber members to devise bespoke skills agendas, which could incorporate other training options. To request an obligation-free consultation with a member of the team, visit cityplym.ac.uk/employers-app.