Northumberland College has recently launched its new Apprenticeship Academy that will focus on meeting the needs of Apprentices and their employers. This new Academy sees Apprenticeship Support Officers and Assessors for all subjects working more closely together.
Susan Goldstein, Director of the Apprenticeship Academy said: "Apprenticeships offer a fantastic opportunity for employers to recruit and further develop staff with the skills and expertise needed for their organisation's success."
"For individuals, regardless of their age or background, apprenticeships offer access to structured industry-standard learning and qualifications. Successful apprenticeships are delivered by a robust and cohesive partnership between employer, apprentice and the College. The Apprenticeship Academy will ensure that each partner is clear about their responsibilities and opportunities within this process. Our aim is to support as many Apprentices as we can in achieving their career and educational goals and at the same time help employers to meet current and future skills needs."
Northumberland College is in a unique position to meet skills needs, offering as it does, more than 40 different Apprenticeships at Level 2, 3 and 4, one of the largest ranges of apprenticeship subjects in the region.
The College has invested more than £10m in modern learning facilities, plus recently received further funding from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership for a £2.5m science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) centre, which will open later this year.
Susan says: "We are constantly reviewing our offer to make sure that it meets the needs of apprentices and contributes to the economic well- being of our region."
National figures show that for every £1 of government investment in Level 2 or 3 apprenticeships, there is typically a return of £26 to £28 and that someone with a Higher Apprentice (Level 4) could earn £150,000 more on average over their lifetime.
The Apprenticeship Academy, working in partnership with the College's Business Training Solutions team provide bespoke information, advice and support to employers and their Apprentices.
With a history of delivering training over the last 60 years the College has now recruited it's 1000th Apprentice, April Halligan.
April, aged 18 from Fenham, Newcastle, is a Bricklaying Apprentice with Newcastle City Council.
Newcastle City Council Apprenticeship Manager, Paul Maddison said:
"Building and Commercial Enterprise and indeed Newcastle City Council as a wider organisation, has supported apprentices for many years and boasts a successful track record of providing opportunities for young people to develop skills and secure employment.
"More recently, in partnership with Northumberland College, to increase employment opportunities for local 16-18 year olds, April Halligan has been part of a new Apprentice Pathway Programme that has been developed to provide further placement opportunities for young people within the City, in particular those Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)."
April said: "The programme has provided an excellent opportunity, opening new doors to my career. I've improved my skills and experienced different workplaces including maintenance and building sites. I'm a lot closer to my goal of becoming a qualified brick layer and gaining full-time employment thanks to this experience and the support from Northumberland College."
April's Apprenticeship Assessor, Ged Tait, plays a pivotal role of working with Construction Apprentices including April, on site and at College has a primary role in supporting the learners.
He said: "An assessor's job includes supporting Apprentices while they are at College and in the workplace, by encouraging them and giving feedback to improve their performance and enhance their skills.
"Every eight weeks I go out to visit my apprentices for assessment and progress reviews and the learners are able to contact me any time if there is a problem relating to their NVQ qualification.
"April is the first female apprentice bricklayer I have worked with. She is making good progress with her qualification and I have received great feedback from her mentors at Newcastle City Works."
Graham Charlton, Northumberland College's Brickwork tutor said: "April is a model student with a 100% attendance record for her theory, practical and functional skills lessons, she has a fantastic attitude towards her programme of study, both in the classroom and workshop. She has settled in with the group right from day one."
The College is also supporting employers through a range of Government changes to Apprenticeships. One key change is the move towards the use of Apprenticeship Standards.
Standards show what an apprentice will be doing in a particular job and the skills they need to demonstrate, in order to be considered competent. Standards were developed by employer groups called Trailblazers.
Another change, from 6 April 2017, is the government's Apprenticeship Levy. This will see all employers with an annual payroll over £3million, contribute to apprenticeship training at a rate of 0.5%.
The College's Business Training Solutions team is currently offering a series of free events for employers to guide them through the Levy and other Apprenticeship changes.
Employers wishing to find out more about apprenticeship training and the Levy may contact the College's Business Training Solutions team on 0170 841 268 or email firstname.lastname@example.org