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Educators are the drivers on the road to employment

On 12th August the Government released the long-awaited details of the Apprenticeship Levy. Many employers are apprehensive about how it will impact upon their businesses. Often, companies see hiring an apprentice as a substantial investment of time and money, and some fear that as the Levy changes the job market, there will not be enough high quality apprentices to choose from. Educators will play a significant role in reassuring employers and helping to produce school leavers with the skills and behaviours employers want. Schools can work alongside employers to train their students with these vital skills whilst they are still in school, to ensure that they are best placed to get a job or apprenticeship upon leaving.

The charity I run, Believe in Young People (BiYP), brings together educators and employers to help prepare and place young people into the world of work. Our programme offers each young person the best possible chance of finding a job or apprenticeship because we support them through each step of their journey, from learning to earning. BiYP offers schools: employer-led resources that can be integrated into the curriculum, high quality independent careers advice, employer visits, and structured work experience. This programme is all offered through our innovative digital platform which tracks the progress of each student in developing their employability skills and means a school can meet all of the Gatsby benchmarks at a saving of £126 per pupil from Years 7 to 13.

So far, 60% of young people who have gone through this process have been rated employable upon leaving school. This enables employers to develop a high quality pipeline of talent to recruit for an entry-level job or an apprenticeship – with lower turnover and dropout rates, helping to reduce recruitment costs and improve productivity. Building on this experience, BiYP is implementing an Apprenticeship Levy pilot to show that schools and employers can work together to further help young people into employment.

The Government has promised to create 3million new apprenticeships by 2020, which is likely to have a radical impact on the jobs market. Employers will be looking to hire school leavers, and they will want a pool of high quality candidates from which to choose from. Educators will have to calm employer’s fears, and help young people into the new roles being created. Because of this, both schools and employers will need to understand how the Apprenticeship Levy will be implemented in practice. As it is set to be implemented as early as April 2017, many want to see how it will work in practice, and adjust to the realities accordingly.

This is where BiYP’s Apprenticeship Levy Pilot comes in. The Pilot is an ambitious project to measure the conversion rate of young people from BiYP’s schools-based pre-employment programme into apprenticeships. The research will give schools a clear idea of how training programmes based around the curriculum can increase the future employability of young people. This good news for employers is that it will give them an idea of how schools-based pre-employment training can let them get the best value for their Levy funds.

The pilot brings together large UK employers, schools and colleges, and is a supported by a large array of organisations including CBI, AELP, NUT, ATL and UCL. A range of factors such as the retention rates and productivity of apprentices, the financial feasibility of the Levy and the comparative economic impacts in different UK regions will also be measured.  The core aim is to provide hard, usable data for schools and business leaders. We hope it will prove that with the right methods, schools can ensure all of their leavers are employable when they enter the jobs market.

Educators are set to play a crucial role in producing high quality future apprentices under the levy framework. If schools can work with employers to help young people, the results can be astounding. With the right pre-employment training young people can be more productive than a standard route into apprenticeships, with some employers saving up to 80% in training costs. 

My experience has shown me that partnerships between schools and employers can have a hugely beneficial impact on the future employability of the students involved. Schools and FE colleges are uniquely placed to make this happen on a national scale, and can revolutionise the fortunes of their students by doing so. 

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