The West Midlands Levy Network Group

West Midlands Local Authorities come together to tackle the Apprenticeship Levy.

Eleven local Councils have joined forces to tackle and navigate their way through the Apprenticeship Levy and it is proving a successful partnership.

With little support back in April 2017; many organisations have struggled to understand the Government’s reform of The Apprenticeship Levy.

The West Midlands Levy Network Group was formed in October 2017 by the Leads within Council’s to look at the best ways to invest in staff development and succession planning by utilising the Levy.

The launch of the Levy in April 2017 took a lot of employers by surprise as the infrastructure wasn’t in place internally and only now employers are able to plan co-hort intakes with Senior Management buy in; that said 24 months to collectively spend over £10 million annually is no mean feat.

With figures for the first quarter down by 59% for Apprenticeship starts we can understand why.

With 22,000 companies affected by the Apprenticeship Levy the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and Local Government Association (LGA) have only recently ramped up the support for large employers.

With the delay of some key Standards from the Institute For Apprenticeships (IFA); it has proved difficult within certain sectors within the business to take on specific Apprentices and upskill staff.

For example, Social Work Degree Apprenticeships are of great interest as it is a fantastic opportunity to tackle the national shortage, however this standard has been in development for a number of years now which limits co-hort intakes before the end of the Government reform.

On a positive, we have been able to offer some fantastic programmes for staff that are not only more specific to roles within the Council but also aligning the skills needed.

Figures from the LGA in regards to the 2.3% Public Sector target indicates that around six Councils have hit this figure in year one; with one Council from the West Midlands reaching this.

Not surprising really when so many factors contribute to this, such as managing the 20% OTJ within departments that are already stretched, delays in standards, delays for training providers having to interpret the assessment plans to offer new standards and some SMT’s or LA Schools not engaging or fully understand the Levy.

Planned profiling starts indicate that more Councils will achieve their 2.3% target in year two and with the support of shared best practice across Local Authority Councils on how to engage with Councillors, Senior Management Teams and Local Authority Schools will help immensely.

Believe me this Levy game has been a learning curve for everyone involved; Employers, Colleges/Training providers, EPAO’s and enrolled delegates; particularly managing the 20% off the job…

Let’s hope it continues past this current government reform as we are only just getting into our stride!

Louise Ward, Apprenticeship Levy Manager at Coventry City Council

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Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

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FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

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In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

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We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

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FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

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Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

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