Today, more and more young people are taking up Apprenticeships, as they provide the opportunity to develop skills that are valued and in-demand in the workplace. The 250,000 young people currently on an Apprenticeship in England can receive the off-the-job element of their training delivered in a number of ways; through a private training provider, the employer themselves who can be an accredited training provider, or through a local FE college.
Local FE colleges pride themselves on their relationship with employers in the local region and the Peterborough Regional College is a good example of how a successful programme should be run. With 450 apprentices currently enrolled on their Apprenticeships programmes, the College enables not only each apprentice to be placed on a training programme which meets an employers specific needs but ensures that the majority of their apprentices receive the all important on the job element of their Apprenticeship.
Each year the college works with local employers to establish the demand for Apprentices and seeks applications from young people. Selection is rigorous since the college is recruiting on behalf of the employer.
All potential apprentices go through a detailed application process, where they are tested on basic literacy and numeracy. If successful at this stage, applicants are put in contact with a training placement adviser. This one-to-one interview is the final stage in the selection process and will decide if they are accepted on an Apprenticeship programme.
One of the colleges” largest apprentice employers is Perkins Engines, a leader in the design and manufacture of industrial diesel engines, which plans to hire 12 apprentices this year. The close working relationship with the college not only enables Perkins Engines to update the college on the progress of their apprentices on the job, but also ensures that the off-the-job element is integrated and delivering what they need.
Perkins Engines is a strong advocate for Apprenticeships and acknowledges the positive impact apprentices have on the business as their skills increase ““ with 100% of their apprentices staying on when they complete their Apprenticeship. In fact, in the last four years, Perkins Engines has employed 35 apprentices and only two have left the programme before completion.
The strong relationships the college has created and maintained with local employers contributes greatly to the success of their Apprenticeship programme which, in 2005/06, produced an achievement rate of over 70%; this, partnered with extensive marketing (through open evenings, school visits and advertising in local regional press) and working with connexions, the information and advice service for young people, ensures the college finds the dedicated apprentices local employers want and need to expand and improve their business.
Stephen Gardner, Director of Apprenticeships, the Learning and Skills Council.
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