From education to employment

Estyn highlight Cardiff and Vale College’s strategic and collaborative approach to delivering apprenticeships that make an impact

Estyn, His Majesty’s Inspectorate for Education and Training, has published an inspection report that highlights the positive work of Cardiff and Vale College’s apprenticeship provision.

With CAVC Group the largest provider of apprenticeships in the country, Cardiff and Vale College works with thousands of apprentices each year across 50 different sectors. Alongside its own provision, the College works with a network of 19 expert subcontractors to ensure the delivery of high-quality apprenticeships for the Welsh Government.

Published today [Wednesday 31st January], the positive report highlights the high quality of apprenticeship provision with CAVC, including effective and innovative practice that Estyn considers worthy of emulation and wider dissemination. The report also showcases the notable impact of apprenticeships on apprentices, employers and economy.

The report details the highly positive impact on apprentices, developing their professional role specific knowledge and skills, alongside wider employability skills and personal development. It highlights apprentices’ ‘good initiative’, ‘positive attitudes’, that they are ‘motivated and enthusiastic’ with ‘many ambitious and determined to progress in their organisations’. It also highlights the sustainable impact of apprenticeships as ‘many become valued members of their employer’s staff and develop a wide range of industry related skills that enables them to sustain employment and progress their careers’.

The diversity of apprenticeships offered through CAVC and huge range of employers who have committed to these to grow their workforce, has resulted in increased numbers of young people undertaking apprenticeships. The report details that of the circa 2,500 apprentices learning with CAVC, 71% are 16-18 and that the programmes are attracting young people from under-represented groups, with 8% of learners from ethnically diverse groups and 35% from areas of high deprivation.

Omer Waheed, 23 from Cardiff, is a real ambassador for apprenticeships. Omer secured a Vehicle Body Repair apprenticeship with Cardiff-based Davies Motor Company, which deals with prestige vehicles including Bentley and Aston Martin. Omer’s high level of skill secured him his apprenticeship and saw him gain medals in industry skills competitions at both Wales and UK level alongside his job. Omer said: “The College and my apprenticeship has helped me to achieve my goals and got me to where I am today.”

Olivia Headley-Grant, 19 from Barry, joined Cardiff and Vale University Health Board strategic planning team during the pandemic, adding instant value to her employer with an infectious drive to do things better, faster and more efficiently. Olivia, who was shortlisted for a national apprentice award and has since progressed in her career with the NHS said: “Working and learning at the same time was the right thing for me – it really helped my confidence and deepened my knowledge. I would certainly recommend an apprenticeship.”

Cardiff and Vale College works with more than a thousand employers across the private, public and third sector, from multi-national businesses to a diverse range of SME’s to deliver apprenticeships that meet their needs now and for the future. The report recognises this, stating how CAVC ‘works in partnership with local and national employers to develop tailored provision to meet their specific workforce needs’.

The report highlights in detail the strategic approach the College takes to this, recognising CAVC as ‘well informed on local and national Welsh Government priorities and the skills needs of local and national employers’, aligning its provision to this. It also flags the College as ‘proactive’ and ‘forming key strategic partnerships, especially in the capital region with key stakeholders to widen the understanding and benefits of apprenticeships’ all of which is helping to address skills gaps. At the point of inspection 95% of foundation apprentices, 93% of apprentices and 65% of higher apprentices are undertaking apprenticeships in priority sectors.

It also highlights how CAVC ‘engages well with new employers offering apprenticeship opportunities to meet their recruitment and training needs’ and is ‘particularly effective in securing apprenticeship training for a number of high-profile employers’, creating innovative, successful and highly sought-after apprenticeships in sectors including aviation, financial services and the creative industries.

One example of this has been the professional services firm, Deloitte. Ross Flanigan, Head of Business Support Services and Cardiff Delivery Centre Leader for Deloitte explains:

“When opening our Cardiff Delivery Centre we worked in partnership with CAVC to design, recruit for and deliver an apprenticeship pathway that opened roles in our business for people who otherwise would not have secured a role at a firm like ours. It has been a huge success, with some outstanding people joining the business and progressing into rewarding careers.

“The scheme provides a local, sustainable option to grow a diverse and talented team. Around 130 people have joined us through this apprenticeship, most are still with us, and it is the collaborative approach from CAVC that has been the key to success.”

At an SME level there are many examples of apprenticeships being central to the development of highly skilled specialist workforces, for example Cardiff-based air conditioning company Snap Services. Directors Peter Hopson and Nathan Kersley explain:

“We both started our careers as an apprentice Engineers and worked our way up through the ranks gaining valuable knowledge and experience along the way. In developing our own business, apprenticeship training is fundamental in ensuring our workforce is made up of well-skilled industry professionals, developing new talent and continuously upskilling our staff.”

Estyn highlight the overall high quality of the apprenticeship provision at CAVC, recognising positive success rates, the focus on learner outcomes and quality assurance in place. It comments that ‘teachers and assessors are experienced industry practitioners who draw extensively on their own experiences to put teaching and learning into real workplace contexts for learners’. It also highlights the high levels of support for learners’ well-being, support and guidance. As part of this, Estyn recognised the strong levels of support for learners with an additional learning need as practice that it considers worthy of emulation and wider dissemination across the sector. This overall experience sees an impressive 95% of apprentices stating that they are enjoying their learning.

Estyn also emphasise that CAVC has a ‘strong commitment to work-based learning and apprenticeships and provides clear strategic direction for the delivery of its Welsh Government contract’ and that it ‘successfully plans its offer in a strategic and collaborative way’ with its work ‘aligned to local and national priorities’.

Sharon James-Evans, Principal of Cardiff and Vale College said:

“At CAVC we understand the power of apprenticeships and the significant impact they have on individuals, employers and our economy. This can be seen across our work with a huge range of employers, each seeing the benefit to their workforce and business. We are delighted that Estyn have recognised this and seen the emphasis we place on ensuring apprenticeships are meeting the needs of our communities and employers as leading practice.

“I am also incredibly pleased that the high quality of our apprenticeship training has been recognised. Last year our success rates were at their highest level yet, with success rates for Apprenticeships and Foundation Apprenticeships almost 9% above the national comparator, whilst working with more employers than ever before. I am delighted that the dedication of our team at CAVC and across our valued network of expert subcontactors, in supporting our apprentices and employers is deservedly recognised.”

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