Businesses looking to recruit apprentices or use the Apprenticeships Programme in Wales to upskill their workforce can now access a new service for employers.
The National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), which represents more than 100 learning providers across Wales, has appointed a team of specialists to make it easier for employers to engage with the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship Programme.
The NTfW Apprenticeships Team’s mission is to increase the number of employers recruiting apprentices, whilst also encouraging the recruitment of young people into employment sectors of national or regional importance.
Funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund, the team will work with employers and interested stakeholders across Wales, with a view to providing a specialist service for all Apprenticeship enquiries.
The team comprises two Apprenticeships Programme engagement officers, Sam Cutlan and Andrea Sammon and three regionally-based Apprenticeships Programme development managers, Joanne O’Keefe (South East Wales), Catherine Morris (North Wales) and Rhys Daniels (South West and Mid Wales).
Sam and Andrea handle the initial enquiries from employers who complete an expression of interest form on the Business Wales Skills Gateway.
Joanne, Catherine and Rhys work with larger employers, especially those who pay the Apprenticeships Levy, to develop engagement and Apprenticeship opportunities.
By speaking to employers, the team quickly identifies their needs and which Apprenticeship framework and pathway are required before passing the referral to learning providers best placed to deliver the Apprenticeship Programme in specific sectors.
Once suitable provision has been identified, it is then down to the employer to choose which provider they want to work with. The team is totally impartial.
From initial expression of interest to the learning provider contacting the employer should take no longer than five days. The aim is to provide a direct line to employers who are seeking information about how to engage with Apprenticeships.
A social media and publicity campaign are being launched to promote and drive employers towards the new service. The new referral service is designed to help the Welsh Government achieve its aim of creating 100,000 quality Apprenticeships in Wales during its current term of office.
Jeff Protheroe, NTfW’s director of operations, said Apprenticeship provision in Wales was constantly evolving to meet the needs of employers.
“We are committed to ensuring that employers in Wales get the service they are looking for,” he added.
“The process has been developed in consultation with the whole provider network and we want it to work for everybody.”
Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan said:
“The new referral process delivered by the NTfW makes it a lot easier for employers across Wales to engage with the Apprenticeships Programme and to find the specific service they are looking for.
“By becoming involved in Apprenticeships in Wales, employers are creating a more responsive, motivated workforce with the key skills and experience they need. Apprenticeships deliver real returns to the bottom line for businesses and help employers to improve productivity and to be more competitive.
“The Welsh Government is on course to meet its ambitious target of creating 100,000 Apprenticeship starts during this administration. It’s not just about meeting targets, but also ensuring that the right opportunities are being crated in the right areas so that individuals, businesses and the economy can thrive
Sarah John, NTfW chair, said:
“The launch of the new team is another milestone in the NTfW providing a comprehensive service for Apprenticeships in Wales.
“The Welsh Government has recognised the need for Apprenticeship enquiries to be directed to one source where employers can receive up to date, accurate advice on the Apprenticeships. This includes understanding in which sectors or jobs apprenticeships are available, knowing which provider can deliver that service locally and answering the key question ‘Is this funded?’
“NTfW has, through investment by the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund, been able to employ five key personnel to answer these queries and go out into the workplace to raise awareness, heightening the demand for the high quality Apprenticeship Programmes we have in Wales.
“The new team will be a great asset to the 100 plus providers across Wales in meeting the demands of employers and creating the future qualified workforce of Wales.”
Learning providers welcomed the appointment of the new team. Hayley Roberts, Apprenticeship vacancy co-ordinator for ACT Limited, said one of the employer referrals that the company had received from the new team had resulted in three new apprentices with the potential for more in the future.
“It’s a central port of call for employers who would otherwise have to ring around lots of training providers,” she added. “I think it will help more businesses to engage with Apprenticeships.”
Katy Godsell, Cambrian Training Company’s marketing manager, said:
“The appointment of this new team is a very positive move to enable the network to raise awareness of Apprenticeships and respond in a more efficient and effective way to the specific needs of employers.”