25 September 2021

How employers can build the foundations of local economic success, person by person

The new Skills Bill puts employers at the heart of post-16 skills by having them set out the requirements of new employer-led standards for an occupation.

What this means in practice is that, much like the creation of the Apprenticeship Standards, employers will work together to agree a set of knowledge, skills and behaviours to ensure technical training reflects the needs of industry.

This type of offer can already be found in the recently expanded Traineeships programme.

Traineeships allow young people aged 16-24 to focus their skills development on a particular industry sector they’d like to progress in to. Trainees work towards nationally recognized qualifications alongside valuable work experience to consolidate learning and an additional PSHE programme which provides much needed personal development and confidence.

A well-structured and managed Traineeship can transform a young-person’s belief in themselves and put them on a positive pathway towards further education and a career they enjoy.

Igniting ambitions

For some young people, leaving school or college without a clear idea of where to turn next, or having been put off by traditional educational environments, an independent training provider can be the difference which gives them the combined support and opportunities they need to take positive steps for their future.

18-year-old Mansi Desai was one such learner who found inspiration and the confidence to go further. Having been introduced to Skills Training by her local Job Centre, Mansi went on to achieve multiple qualifications and enjoyed work experience placements which ignited her ambitions for a business career.

She said: “I loved my journey and really enjoyed all my courses. I learned how to develop my skills, gained a lot of confidence, made a lot of new friends, and received great support from all of my tutors and assessors.

“Skills Training UK helped me with finding and preparing for job interviews, and I enjoyed work experience. It was challenging at times, but I learned what it was like to have a job and work in business.”

Mansi has gone on to take up an Apprenticeship in Business, which represents a high change in her confidence and ambition.

It’s here that the value of Traineeships can be seen: giving a young person an opportunity to build transferable skills, experience workplace environments and build confidence in themselves. This pathway can deliver the social mobility at the heart of the Levelling Up Agenda.

Employers have a key role to play in driving economic and social success by providing opportunities for young people to upskill and discover fulfilling careers. By taking on a Trainee or offering work experience, you can turn someone’s life in a new direction and uncover fresh talent for your business.

Local jobs plans

In addition to the training and support of young people seeking to kickstart their careers, there are a range of Government programmes in the Plan for Jobs designed to incentivise employers hiring Apprentices, offering work experience and upskilling existing staff.

The fully-funded Sector-Based Work Academy Programmes (SWAPs) run for six weeks and can help you:

  • recruit staff with the right training and skills from the outset, developed through fully-funded pre-employment training
  • help someone on out-of-work benefits by offering a work experience placement and an interview for a real job
  • see job candidates in action and could also identify candidates for an apprenticeship

Skills Training has a number of regional partnerships which support targeted groups of learners, including working with West Midlands Combined Authority to create SWAPs in the West Midlands.

Big name employers including Microsoft, West Midlands Police, Nuffield Health, Ikea and West Midlands NHS have taken part in careers events designed to share industry insight and promote career pathways and job opportunities to learners.

Many of the employers who took part subsequently received a dozen or so expressions of interest from job applications and Apprenticeships. Several employers offered candidates work experience or employer visits to get to know them better and look at opportunities for training and employment.

ABTEC Building Technology found that participating in these events gave so much to them as employers too.

They told us: “I was blown away by the work you do and the young people I met. We would like to see how we can do more as we both feel helping just a small percentage of your learners could go a long way to helping these kids get a start in life.”

Lifetime Skills Guarantee

The Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee also offers the opportunity for adults who are both employed and unemployed to achieve their first Level 3 qualification on a fully-funded course. A Level 3 qualification is equivalent to an A Level or advanced technical certificate or diploma.

How does this benefit employers? The qualifications on offer have been selected with input from industry and sector representative bodies which can support different local labour markets. It includes qualifications which are transferable across sectors such as digital skills, business skills and accountancy.

Supporting your employees to train for new qualifications helps to develop a motivated and committed workforce. It reduces turnover and brings tangible benefits from the introduction of new or higher-level skills and fresh perspectives. It can even increase sales and customer satisfaction, helping your business to grow. This can make a big difference, especially for SMEs.

Level 3 is a real gateway qualification to open up more education and training to individuals. At Skills Training UK, we’ve seen huge interest in our Level 3 Access to Healthcare Professions qualification. People who have a long-held dream to work in healthcare services have taken the course, often working flexibly around work and childcare commitments and successfully applied to progress on to nursing courses at university.

Fundamental stepping-stones

As an independent education provider we see a lot of interest in some of our Level 1 and 2 courses for adults, from those who are employed and unemployed, because they are often the building blocks to something bigger, something better, something that really delivers the social mobility people are looking for.

For example, our Maths and English courses are a bedrock of adult education because achieving Level 3 or 4 (Grade C) is the key to unlocking so many opportunities across education, training and employment.

We meet many talented people for whom English is not their first language and being able to improve their reading, writing, speaking and comprehension skills really allows them to participate fully in the labour-market and in society.

Learner Mustafa Abubakr moved from Sudan to the UK in 2019 and experienced many challenges adapting to life in the UK. He explained: “Adapting to life in a new country was a real challenge. I had little grasp of the English language and no idea of how to write a CV or apply for a job. Skills Training tutors patiently guided me through that every step of the way and it gave me real hope for what might be possible in the future on my own”.

Mustafa went on to achieve a plethora of vocational qualifications, while working on his English and employability skills and he made many new friends. He recently received offers from five universities to study Civil Engineering.

“It has greatly transformed every aspect of my life and was the best experience ever,” he added.

For others getting their Level 2 Maths can be equally transformative.

Learner Emma Ray, 41, recently achieved her Level 2 maths alongside the Access to Healthcare course and received three offers to study nursing at university. One small qualification, unlocking all that opportunity.

Many of our adult learners progress into employment or achieve progress at their existing employer, if they are already in the workplace. But it’s not just the qualifications that matter – our programmes offer additional support and mentoring where it’s needed and those all-important employability and personal skills can be the difference in an individual believing in themselves enough to make an application, put themselves out there and go for what they want.

Economic strength and social mobility are built on foundations which are every bit as personal as they are vocational. These steps every individual makes, adds up to greater social mobility to stronger, more resilient companies and a labour-market responding to the needs of industry.

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