Driving the apprenticeship agenda

Preparations are well underway at the University of Derby for National Apprenticeship Week 2020, which takes place in February.

Throughout the whole year, the University has been driving the apprenticeship agenda in the region, and Head of Apprenticeships Jane Lowe and her team are currently working hard to create more opportunities within the small business sector.

Hundreds of placements have already been successfully secured by the University for students, the majority being with large employers who pay into the Apprenticeship Levy to fund the training. But increasingly, Jane and her team are forging links with small and medium businesses, who are exempted from virtually all the costs of the apprenticeship.

Jane said: “When the University of Derby applied to be on the RoATP (Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers), we also requested funding to support our smaller employers in the region.

“We now have access to government funding which enables us to offer 95% of the costs of training an apprentice, up to the maximum funding band.

“This pot of funding is to support small and medium businesses with a pay bill of less than £3 million, and can also fund 100 per cent of the training if a small business has less than 50 staff, or they recruit 16-18 year olds.”

Research has shown that:

“This shows that there is an opportunity for business of all sizes to invest in succession planning,” says Jane.

“The University of Derby maps its apprenticeships to specific job roles, which gives every employer a clearly mapped career progression for their apprentices.”

Having access to a pool of apprentices from diverse backgrounds benefits small businesses in the shape of the new ideas and fresh approach to problem-solving that apprentices bring with them, developed in part by project-based activity which the University of Derby builds into the ‘on the job’ element.

That approach and new ideas can be adopted by existing staff, further boosting the business’s growth. Knowing how to get an apprenticeship up and running and accessing funding are still the main difficulties SMEs say they have.

However, clear guidance to support all types of businesses to set up all types of apprenticeships, from levels 2-7, is available from the University website derby.ac.uk.

National Apprenticeship Week 2020 takes place from 3-7 February.

Case study

"We decided to take on a BA (Hons) undergraduate in Business Management and Leadership Degree Apprentice because we wanted to develop the future management of our business. In our eyes, the best way to do this was by training people from within the business, and this has allowed our apprentice to gain a deep understanding into the workplace and the industry.

The benefits to the business are a clear legacy plan with committed, fully-trained managers who will know the business in all its forms.

Headshot of Vanessa Gregory smiling

The management apprenticeship has introduced us to new opportunities and opened our eyes to the benefits we can get from our apprentices in the office.

Vanessa Gregory
Sales and Marketing Manager, Fairgrove Homes Ltd

Taking on a degree apprentice has also benefitted our business because we have gained a member of our team who can apply what he is doing at university to the workplace, bringing new knowledge to the team.

It has also benefitted us because, as a small business, the apprenticeship means we pay just five per cent of its total cost.

The University of Derby has helped us by introducing us to a new scheme from the start, while the management apprenticeship has introduced us to new opportunities and opened our eyes to the benefits we can get from our apprentices in the office."

  1. https://cebr.com/reports/productivitymatters
  2. https://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4857
  3. http://is4profit.com/business-blog/5-reasons-apprentice-can-benefit-business