Hello PPMA members and friends

As part of our ‘Let’s Talk’ themes, our President Caroline Nugent gives us an update on how apprenticeships and the levy have developed over the past year.

“Well what a year it has been. From the ‘excitement’ of the new levy to the reality of the new levy! You are all very well versed on my views on apprentices and how passionate I am about bringing on tomorrow’s talent so they do not have huge debts. We have had an olive branch of some change through the chancellors recent speech, so hopefully those in power have realised that we all want this to work but it will not be successful in its current state.

We need to increase apprentice numbers again as to see a 50% reduction in numbers of apprentices is just the worst thing, which could have happened! I suppose I have to get my frustrations out of the way before I reflect on the positives. Why has it given providers the opportunity to raise fees for providing the same things! How can a course last year have gone up so much? And hasn’t this happened for our own HR professional courses too? We are heading the same way as universities where we have a race to the top to see who is going to charge the most and who is going to challenge why fees have gone up so much!

And why on earth weren’t the qualifications ready for some of those courses we desperately wanted to put people into as part of succession planning? What I find so depressing is during talking to so many people that I am hearing ‘oh we just put x onto a management course to make sure we use up the money!’ Where is the strategic planning approach we really need? And who is keeping track on the equalities on who is getting the training and who isn’t. I can just see now the FOIs etc asking which protected characteristic had opportunities and who didn’t…….. we don’t want another BBC.

So onto the positives as I always do. We have our highly successful national programme on Apprentice of the Year, which is due to run again this month and will test and challenge our young people and put them outside of their comfort zones. If I had had the opportunity to go on a programme like this, which is FREE and will set me up for life, I would have been so motivated and grateful to my employer. Let’s increase numbers even further next year to give more people the chance.

We have wonderful people like Matthew from Central Bedfordshire who won our Apprentice of the Year 2017 and has been working with Leatham on considering disabilities in apprenticeships and how we can make this work so that we can actively support and increase numbers of people with disabilities in the workforce. There is a real opportunity here.

Finally all in all I see a positive potential to apprenticeships, but this is conditional upon being able to use some of the money for salaries and challenging providers about why costs are increasing. From one ex apprentice to the next lets make it work and lets work together to give young people the chance to work cross sector or across different public bodies during the apprenticeship so they get a fantastic experience and no university debt!”