Trailblazing event sets the foundation for collaborative working on apprenticeships

2nd March 2017

Eighty five representatives from Local Government and education/apprenticeship provision came together to share information on skills needs, trailblazers and the gap between the two.  Most importantly, they went on to discuss what needs to be done next to make the most of this opportunity. 

With sponsorship from the national LGA, the Association of Colleges in the Eastern Region (ACER) and the Chartered management Institute (CMI) we were able to consider a range of issues and options for new staff and for upskilling the existing workforce.

Alongside a launch of a regional strategy for apprenticeships in the East of England, our Chief Executive Chair, Richard Carr of Central Bedfordshire strengthened the message with a call to action to collaborate to address skills shortages across the region particularly in building and social care.

Our key note speaker Rebecca Rhodes, the former Head of Apprenticeship Funding Policy Implementation at the Skills Funding Agency, gave a whistle stop guide to implementation and reminded us all how important it is understand our local demographics and to map that to the forecast demographic of your own organisation in 5 years.  It sounds obvious but is not always the starting point.

There were individual networking opportunities and many people will be taking forward their own local networking.  We heard about how public sector partners are working together in Hertfordshire and will be offering support to other county areas that want support to work collaboratively based on a shared geography. 

At a regional level, we will be taking the data on trailblazers and gaps back to the regional working group of Local Authorities to take forward.  One of those areas might be around the Leadership and Management skills we need, the CMI certainly gave us some things to think about and we will be developing our relationship with them over the coming months.  We will be working with ACER to see how we can better share information on needs and provision across the region and start the ball rolling on developing any additional trailblazers we identify as necessary.  We have already been able to circulate an offer of free training and support from UNIOSN to all the Heads of HR in the Local Authorities which is great news. 

We will continue to act as a conduit to our national colleagues to ensure good practice is shared across the regions and are working with them on a virtual group for Local Authority representatives.  We will ensure that common problems are highlighted to Government.  A number of issues in relation to implementation of the levy in schools were identified at the event and we understand that the Cabinet Office Implementation Unit will be looking into these.

To keep messaging consistent for the great work taking place across the region on apprenticeships, the representatives at the conference were invited to enter a competition to find a slogan. The winning message – picked by Cabinet Office representative Felix Cornehl, Senior Adviser in the Implementation Unit – was penned by apprentice, Matthew Wallis who was part of a team from Central Bedfordshire Council which came up with “Supporting apprentices to get up and grow” slogan.

The aim is to use the message to drive a campaign across the East of England to support the delivery of the regional strategy to enable councils to increase the number of apprenticeships that are undertaken and make best use of the funding available through the Apprenticeship Levy.  

Sample of feedback:
“Despite things still being in development, this was the most comprehensive event on the apprenticeship changes and the levy and provided practical opportunities to engage and develop.”
“Useful to see where others are and how we can work together.”
“Answered many questions I had so thank you.  Left with a couple that will need further investigation.”

..and from our Sponsors:
Irene McManus from the CMI Eastern Regional Board said “It was a great day and it was nice to see so many people attend and the presentations and workshops were really insightful, interesting and informative.”

“This was yet another informative and inspiring event from EELGA - as a key partner working on apprenticeships - the LGA was delighted with the outcomes of the day and it was so positive to see so many councils working together and sharing practice." - Nigel Carruthers, Senior Advisor and apprenticeship implementation lead, LGA

Find out more about getting involved in the 'Get up and grow' campaign contact Lucy Ashwell lucy.ashwell@eelga.gov.uk / 01284 758319.

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