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A message from Patrick Leeson:

17 May weekly update

17 May 2017

This week, Patrick highlights the expanding apprenticeship pathways for young people and the opportunities this provides to schools.

Dear Colleagues

Expanding Apprenticeship Opportunities in Schools

On 16 May we hosted a conference attended by Secondary and Primary schools on expanding apprenticeship opportunities. We aim to increase the number of young people who follow an apprenticeship pathway across a wide spectrum of employment opportunities. We are also aiming to support schools to train existing staff by using new apprenticeship frameworks and to expand the number of apprentices that are employed by schools, including the new apprenticeship route into teaching.

The Apprenticeship Levy is now available to draw down to fund the training of apprentices. From April 2017, Local Authority maintained schools pay 0.5% of the payroll bill into the levy and academy trusts must set up and pay into their own digital account if the payroll bill exceeds £3 million. Non levy payers only contribute 10% of the training costs, while the Government pays the other 90% of costs. The Levy presents an excellent opportunity to invest in training for your existing workforce in a way that meets your needs. It can also help with recruitment of staff who want to have the opportunity for training, career progression and qualifications. You can find out how your school is affected by the Apprenticeship Levy here.

Recently we have seen a number of positive developments in increasing the number of young people taking up apprenticeships in Kent. 51% of schools are now employing a total of 453 apprentices to date and we expect to see this number grow. Schools are using the apprenticeship opportunities to train teaching assistants, site maintenance staff, lab and IT technicians and staff who work in finance, business management and catering.

KCC continues to work in partnership with employers, the Kent Association of Training Organisations (KATO) and Further Education Colleges to drive up the number and quality of apprenticeships in Kent. We have seen this steadily increase so that in the past year 3,020 young people aged 16 to 18 started an apprenticeship. Our aim is to double the number of apprenticeships in the next 2 to 3 years.

We are at a turning point now, nationally and in Kent, in having for the first time a wide ranging set of apprenticeship frameworks and standards for different occupations, and a systematic set of progression pathways for young people to move into an apprenticeship at age16 at levels 2 and 3 and go forward to higher and degree apprenticeships if they wish. This provides good opportunities to learn on the job, have the training paid for and to achieve high level qualifications.

We have developed a new website - Apprentice Kent to provide a range of advice and support to young people seeking information about apprenticeships, and for employers to advertise their vacancies. Applications by young people have increased significantly in recent months so that now there are 2073 young people who have registered their interest on the website. So far the top employment sectors that young people are enquiring about for apprenticeships are engineering, administration, construction, childcare, IT and finance. 64% of applicants are currently in school, 14% are in colleges and others are from young people who are employed or unemployed.

The Skills and Employability Service can provide a range of support and advice for schools in developing their own apprenticeships and in guiding young people to know more about and take up opportunities for apprenticeships. The team can provide assemblies, focused information sessions, workshops on developing CVs for young people and providing data to help young people make informed choices. There are also a number of apprenticeship ambassadors available to advise young people.

We are also committed to helping all employers in Kent to take full advantage of the new apprenticeship arrangements. The Council, in partnership with employers, has set up eight guilds to improve the cooperation between employment and education. These guilds now include over 200 employers and cover the following sectors:

  • Construction and the Built Environment
  • Creative and Media
  • Engineering, Advanced Manufacturing, Environmental Technologies and Energy
  • Financial Services
  • Health and Social Care
  • Hospitality, Leisure, Tourism and Transport
  • Land Based
  • Sciences.

Schools wishing to be involved in the Guilds can contact our apprenticeship advice service by email at

Our plan is to work towards the successful recruitment cycle of coordinating most apprenticeship vacancies during the year - in September, January, April and July.

Schools, FE colleges and work-based training providers continue to work with young people with the support of KCC. As well as the new Apprentice Kent website to help young people make informed choices around apprenticeships we have another new website, Ready to Work Kent which aims to support young people to improve their employability skills.

Apprenticeships are of equal interest to Primary and Secondary schools as employers. At the same time we have increasing evidence that pupils in Years 5 and 6 are becoming more interested in career opportunities and pathways as they move on to Secondary schools. It is an opportunity for all schools to make sure pupils are aware of the apprenticeship opportunities available, to achieve closer links between the world of employment and education and to engage with other partners and training providers to ensure both staff and pupils can find the right pathways and qualifications that new apprenticeships can provide.

For more information please contact, Head of Skills and Employability, KCC or the apprenticeship help line on 03000 41 40 05.

Patrick Leeson
Corporate Director
Children, Young People and Education