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    Sussex Skills Solutions, the joint venture between Sussex Coast College Hastings and Sussex Downs College, is the premier provider of apprenticeships and skills training in Sussex.

    As students across the county finish their college courses, and look ahead to results day, Sussex Skills Solutions is encouraging them to consider what a Higher Apprenticeship might be able to offer them.

    Towards the end of August, many will find out their exam results and prepare for life at university. But what if there was a different route that could offer the same qualification without the student loan debt?

    For some time, apprenticeships have found it hard to shake off the stigma of only being for 16 year-old school leavers. However, the apprenticeship reforms that happened earlier this year have increased opportunities for school and college leavers to develop their higher level skills via this route.

    Students are starting to see the benefits of studying Advanced and Higher Apprenticeships as they realise the potential that this combined package of work and study can offer them.

    It is now more possible than ever before, to study equivalent qualifications as a university student, but without the tuition fees of university courses. These Higher and Degree Apprenticeship options also have the added benefits of gaining years of professional skills and experience and earning a wage.

    The benefits aren’t just for the apprentice either.

    There are around 75 Higher and Degree apprenticeships in subjects ranging from Accounting to Software Development. Sussex Skills Solutions will work with your business to develop the right mix of apprenticeship and training programmes, bringing together the best in higher and vocational education.

    “We understand the dynamics of our local employers and understand the commercial pressures they face,” says Stephen Burkes, Director of Sussex Skills Solutions.

    “We have the in-house expertise to develop qualifications aligned to our employers’ needs as well as the significant resources and facilities of two colleges. Yet we operate with the approach and flexibility of a private training provider.”

    This means your business will be able to benefit from having an enthusiastic new employee who will be learning the specific skills your business needs, rather than a generic syllabus.

    By investing in high-level training you could also benefit from increasing the talent in your team, improving productivity, boosting employee morale and improving your staff retention.

    Research has shown that, on average, apprentices help to improve productivity by £214 per week and after finishing their course, 77% of them stay with the same employer.

    Another advantage to your business may be acquiring this higher level talent at a reduced cost in wages. The apprenticeship wage could be significantly lower than the cost of employing a university graduate.

    All of these benefits seem really attractive too if you are a levy-paying employer. Higher Apprenticeships are a great way to attract higher level talent to your business and get a real return on investment from your levy payments.

    Over the past three years, 56,200 people have started a higher or degree apprenticeship. The government has pledged to create 3 million apprenticeships across all levels by 2020. (Statistics from GOV.UK)

    Sussex Skills Solutions can draw on its decades of experience and knowledge in the apprenticeships sector to find and match the right person for the role you are recruiting. Potential candidates are added to the Talent Bank, an extensive database used by both colleges, where applicants can be filtered by location, sector and qualifications.

    Stephen continues: “As the number of higher level apprenticeship standards begins to build and the amount of long-term, personal debt from high tuition fees and maintenance loan repayments starts to be even more of a reality, then young people aged 19-24, and their parents or carers, will truly see an apprenticeship as an alternative where you can earn and learn. This can only be good news for employers.”

    Sussex Skills Solutions can work with your business to develop training programmes and courses in the following sectors: Accounting, Business Management, Engineering, Healthcare Management, Hospitality Management, and IT and Computing.

    Student and employer case study: Sophie Cripps, Harri Nats Café

    Sophie Cripps, 24, is the Manager of Harri Nats Café in Seaford, having completed her Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship in Hospitality Management.

    The popular café in the heart of Seaford town centre is benefitting from their newly qualified higher-level apprentice. Owner Norah Allvey says: “Apprenticeship schemes increases staff confidence. Apprentices brush up on skills, are focused, hardworking and use their own initiative more. It’s fair to say that both the employer and employee benefit from an apprenticeship.”

    Thanks to her apprenticeship, Sophie also had the opportunity to complete a First Aid course, Fire Marshal training and a Health & Safety in the workplace course.

    “I encourage my staff to learn and develop,” says Norah. “I like to deal with apprentices through Sussex Skills Solutions drawing on the experience of the college, as it enhances my business and my staff have worked toward something. Apprenticeships enable them to lead. They learn about laws and procedures in the workplace and, as a result, they feel more included and confident in the work they do.”

    Student and employer case study: Tom Ramsay, Technoturn

    Tom Ramsay, 22, is a technician at Technoturn in St Leonards. He has been with the manufacturing company since 2013 where he started his Intermediate Apprenticeship in Engineering. Having successfully completed his Level 2 and Level 3 apprenticeship, he is now studying a Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship in Engineering.

    “By taking on Higher Level Apprentices, it allows us to find the next supervisors and managers of the future,” said John Stretton, Director of Technoturn.

    “They’re with us for a few years getting to know the organisation really well, giving them much more of an insight into how the business operates. Because they have the practical, hands on skills to go with it, they really flourish.”

    To see how Sussex Skills Solutions can help your business, call 030 300 39777.

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