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South Tyneside Council public sector apprenticeship target survey response 2021

As a public sector body with 250 or more staff in England, we have a target to employ an average of at least 2.3 per cent of our staff as new apprentice starts over the period of 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2021.

Survey responses

Number of employees working on 31 March 2020

4,761

Number of employees working on 31 March 2021

4,630

Number of employees who started working between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021

362

Number of apprentices who were working on 31 March 2020

52

Number of apprentices who were working on 31 March 2021

41

Number of new apprentices between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, including new hires and existing employees who started an apprenticeship

16

Full time equivalents (optional)

3742

Additional questions

What actions have the Council taken this year to meet the target? How do these compare to the challenges experienced in the previous year?

The actions we have taken include:

  • The Skills Team organised a week of activities during national apprentice week to promote apprenticeships and South Tyneside Council as an employer. 
  • The drop in the number of actions taken to meet the target however has been due to the home working directive and the additional pressure on services due to COVID-19. 

What challenges have the Council faced this year to meet the target? How do these compare to the challenges experienced in the previous year?

The main challenges are:

  • Salary costs: The Council continues to face budgetary challenges due to funding reductions since 2010 and the levy has created additional pressures on Council funds.  The Council took a decision to maximise the use of the levy without increasing costs; services need to use existing budgets to create new apprenticeship roles or upskill existing staff which limits numbers.
  • Ongoing budget challenges/reviews: The Council has undergone a number of service reviews due to budget challenges and these are planned to continue for the foreseeable future.  The Council is mindful of having genuine job opportunities for the length of the apprenticeship prior to reviews being finalised therefore these are being held in some areas until the outcome of reviews is known.
  • 20% off the job training: This continues to be a challenge with concerns about the impact on productivity within services to comply with this and it reduces the number of employees within teams who can undertake apprenticeships at the same time especially in small teams.
  • Minimum 30 hpw: Council employees working less than 30 hpw would require the length of the apprenticeship to be extended, which could cause operational issues  
  • However the impact of Covid has been significant:
    • we were unable to attend jobs fairs/school recruitment events with current apprentices/managers to promote apprenticeship opportunities and South Tyneside Council as an employer.
    • we were unable to recruit new apprentice ambassadors or deliver other apprentice related activities due to COVID-19.

How is the Council planning to meet the target in the future? What will the Council continue to do or do differently?

  • The Council's Apprenticeship Strategy includes an action plan for delivery up to 2020. It includes key areas for delivery to increase the number of apprenticeships:
  • The Council's Apprenticeship Strategy includes an action plan for delivery up to 2020.  This is currently under review and will include an updated action plan for delivery up to 2023 to include any newly identified opportunities to meet the target in the future including maximising publicity opportunities, facilitating information events and having more bespoke communications with all services across the council.
  • In March 2021 we recruited a bespoke Workforce Development Advisor who will be the Councils lead for apprenticeships across all areas & who will build on the work already done to support managers in recruiting apprentices as well as using apprenticeships to upskill existing employees.
  • Further embed the use of apprenticeships within the Council's Workforce Planning, Leadership Development Programme and Succession Planning processes
  • Identify and target priority areas to meet existing and future skills gaps
  • Raise the profile of apprenticeships by delivering information workshops, developing regular email communications on what apprenticeships are available and build them into workforce and succession planning to address specific skills gaps at a range of levels
  • Increase number of apprentices from underrepresented groups including NEET and former LAC
  • Establish clear career pathways which set out experiences, skills and qualifications required at each level and structured opportunities to develop these, so that we can retain and develop our employees
  • Map apprenticeship standards to specific job roles so that all professions to have established career pathways by 2023
  • Encourage and promote the inclusion of apprenticeship opportunities within schools right across the Borough by delivering inhouse information sessions to Head teachers, Governors and Business Managers
  • Develop a robust evaluation tool to review learner experience at the end of each apprenticeship and monitor feedback
  • Review recruitment process for apprenticeships in terms of application forms appropriate to the level of the applicant from school leaver to more mature applicant

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