BBC News – Reading and Leeds festival apprenticeship scheme launched

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-17080608

Reading and Leeds festival apprenticeship scheme launched

18 February 2012 Last updated at 10:11

Reading Festival 2011 main stageThe apprenticeships offer a chance to work for Reading and Leeds festivals

Young job seekers have been invited to apply for England’s first music festival apprentice scheme.

Reading and Leeds festival boss Melvin Benn has set up two paid 12-month posts to work for both live music events.

Mr Benn, who has also set up 10 three-week internships, said he was reacting to unemployment figures – the UK jobless total is at a 17-year high.

He said: “As somebody who runs a company whose primary target is young people, I wanted to respond to it.”

Mr Benn, who runs the live events company Festival Republic, will offer apprentices and interns a chance “to see how things work behind the scenes”.

Applicants must be between 18 and 25 years old.

‘Not free labour’

Placements will include work in production, artist liaison, marketing, social media and ticketing as well as on site roles.

“Work is clearly tougher for young people at the moment compared to 10 years ago and even five years ago,” said Mr Benn.

He dismissed the idea the internships were “free labour” and said the placements were additional posts to his workforce, not filling vacancies.

Reading East MP Rob Wilson said he “congratulated” Mr Benn on the placements.

He added: “With so many young people facing a challenging time getting a job, it’s important that companies are prepared to give them an opportunity to get their foot on the first rung of the ladder.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK unemployment rate was 8.4% in the three months to December.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

So You Want To….take on an apprentice – 3/2/2012 – Farmers Weekly

http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/02/03/2012/131733/So-You-Want-To.take-on-an-apprentice.htm

So You Want To….take on an apprentice

Apprenticeships offer a structured route into agricultural work, building skills and experience to the benefit of employee and employer. Robyn Vinter reports

How does it work?

An apprenticeship is a work-based training programme designed around the needs of an employer and leading to a nationally recognised qualification.

Agricultural apprenticeship numbers have doubled in England over the past three years to 850 in 2010-11, but more employers are needed if this trend is to continue.

Farming apprentices follow frameworks designed by Lantra with compulsory and optional components. They are encouraged to choose components that fit with their farmwork, while other elements can be studied at college.

Apprentices usually work on the farm four days a week and go to agricultural college for the remaining day to study elements such as health and safety, employment regulations and working relationships.

A mentor from an agricultural college provides support to both apprentice and employer, with most assessment carried out on the farm, roughly every 10 weeks.

Agricultural apprenticeships tend to last 18 months and a minimum of 530 guided learning hours are needed to complete the course, including time spent both at work and at college.

The employer signs a contract to commit to 18 months but has no responsibility for their apprentice after that.

What are the benefits?

• Agriculture has a people and skills shortage – work-based learning is a practical way for those entering the sector to gain necessary skills and knowledge

• With 41% of agricultural workers older than 50 and the key decision-maker on farms aged about 55, the industry needs to attract new and younger workers, says Lantra

• Apprenticeships can guarantee a skilled workforce, whether taking on an apprentice or hiring someone who has completed an apprenticeship elsewhere

• Equipping and training staff and giving them new responsibilities can help increase productivity and minimise staff turnover and workplace accidents

• For 16 to 18-year-old apprentices, the government pays the cost of college-based study

• A 2008 study for the National Apprenticeship Service found 77% of employers thought apprenticeships made their business more competitive, 76% that they increased overall productivity, 88% believed that apprentices led to a more motivated and satisfied workforce and 83% relied on apprenticeships to provide skilled workers for the future.

What are the responsibilities of the employer?

Employers must provide apprentices with an induction and on-the-job training.

Apprentices should be treated like any other employee and are subject to the same regulations such as working time, health and safety, equality laws and should be given at least 20 days’ annual paid holiday a year as well as bank holidays.

What are the costs? Is there any funding?

The National Minimum Wage for agricultural apprentices is £3.57 an hour, nearly £1 more than the minimum wage for other types of apprentice. This increases with age and after one year rises to:

• £3.68 for 16 to 17-year-olds

• £4.98 for 18 to 20-year-olds

• £6.08 for over 21s

The National Apprenticeship Service can cover some or all of the cost of the mandatory training part of the apprenticeship scheme, which is usually studied at college.

• Up to 100% for 16 to 18-year-olds

• Up to 50% for 19 to 24-year-olds

• Contribution for specified places for over 24s

Employers of 16 to 24-year-olds can also get an apprenticeship grant which helps small and medium-sized businesses with paying an apprentice’s salary. Each grant is worth £1,500, paid in two equal instalments at eight weeks and at 12 months.

What holds employers back from taking on an apprentice?

Alastair Johnston, industry advisory board member at Lantra and member of the AgriSkills forum, thinks farmers are put off taking on an apprentice because they perceive it takes a lot of time, money or organisation.

“You do have to spend some time training an apprentice, but once you have shown them the ropes they’re able to complete many of the more repetitive tasks on their own, freeing-up some time for you to spend on other areas of your business or give you a better work/life balance.

“Many farmers think they cannot afford to take on another member of staff full-time and prefer to take on seasonal workers. The difference with an apprentice is that their education, skills and training are tailored to your business, meaning you get a great deal of consistency and problems are much easier to foresee. If you bring in someone ad hoc you may not always be sure you can rely on them and by the time any problems occur it might be too late.

“If you’re concerned that you don’t have enough work, or a broad enough range of jobs for an apprentice you can set up an Apprenticeship Training Agency with other local farms and share the apprentice. Lantra can help with setting these up and can put you in touch with others in your area who want to take part,” Mr Johnston said.

How do I get involved?

Some apprentices already know their employer through work experience, family connections or being a current employee, but many apprenticeships are arranged by agricultural colleges.

“If an employer’s interested, the first thing they should do is give the college a call and we’ll try and match their needs to a student we’ve got,” says David Lamb, head of agriculture, countryside and gamekeeping at Plumpton College.

“Then we’ll send someone out to do a health and safety assessment of the farm and once we’ve got a suitable candidate we’ll get them signed up on a contract.” Although there is currently no shortage of workplaces for Plumpton College students, having more places available would mean that apprentices could be better matched to farms.

• For more information on apprenticeships visit http://www.lantra.co.uk/Standards-and-Qualifications/Apprenticeships.aspx or contact your local agricultural college.

Funding future faces further formulation | FE Week

http://www.feweek.co.uk/2012/03/02/funding-future-faces-further-formulation/

Funding future faces further formulation

Implementation of a new streamlined and simplified funding system for adult skills that had already been delayed until 2013/14 has suffered a further setback, following a rethink on how apprenticeships might be funded.

A newly formed Skills Funding Agency advisory group has been meeting monthly since December, and has said plans to fund apprenticeship provision based on individual frameworks, rather than component learning aim level, requires further testing.

Chris McLean, vice principal of North Hertfordshire College and member of the Funding External Technical Advisory Group told FE Week: “Only two areas related to basic skills and apprenticeship rates have more work to be done and on both counts it’s the work and scrutiny of the group that is asking for extra detailed modelling to be undertaken to satisfy ourselves that the new system will work at the organisation level as well as for the sector as a whole.”

A document published this week by the SFA, entitled ‘A New Streamlined Funding System for Adult Skills’, says “following advice from the Funding External Technical Advisory Group we are reviewing this [apprenticeship funding]. We are continuing to consult and develop our approach to simplify apprenticeships funding and align it to the principles across the rest of the Adult Skills Budget.

“As a result we now expect to be able to publish the principals and rates for funding Apprenticeships no later than May 2012.”

The first version of the funding reform document was published in October 2011 and included a plan for ten apprenticeship framework funding rates within the ‘learning aim rates matrix’ of 30 rates.

This updated version now excludes apprenticeships, and the remaining provision has doubled to 40 rates.

Mick Fletcher, a visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Education and consultant, says the document shows that the government is struggling to streamline or simplify the funding system for adults.

“Once again simplification proves not to be as easy as the Department thought,” Mr Fletcher said.

“They are still struggling to accommodate basic skills, and can’t yet work out how apprenticeships fit; and they didn’t even try to cover safeguarded learning.

“The reason for the difficulties just might be that it’s not really about simplification at all, but about imposing a centrally determined, price based funding system instead of one that carefully reflects colleges’ costs.”

David Hughes, chief executive of NIACE and until recently the Director of Provider Services at the Skills Funding Agency, said: “We want to work closely with the government and the SFA to try and get a system which has the right sort of incentives for people who it should support and help them not only get into learning, but to succeed as well.

“We want to make sure that any changes do not disadvantage certain types of learners and that those changes recognise the very diverse needs of different learners in different situations.”

The SFA proposals also appear to scrap well trailed plans for Outcome Incentive Payments, and replace them with the piloting of a payment to the provider of half the 20 per cent of achievement funding where eligible unemployed learners prematurely leave their course to get a job.

The document reads: “Job outcome funding will be piloted in 2012/13 using the existing funding models, with 10 per cent job outcome funding where a learner leaves and enters work without achievement of the learning aim.

“This is straightforward in workplace learning, however, in classroom learning the funding will be factored into the year-end reconciliation.”

Plans are also outlined for introducing a funding cap for apprenticeship learners. The report states: “An annual funding cap of £4,400 (applied to the unweighted rate) per learner will be piloted during 2012/13 shadow working.

“The level of an annual funding cap for Apprenticeships is still being considered as part of the work set out above.”

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Paul Champion
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Minister presents update on apprenticeship quality | FE Week

http://www.feweek.co.uk/2012/03/02/minister-presents-update-on-apprenticeship-quality/

Minister presents update on apprenticeship quality

The skills minister John Hayes has told partliament that the review into short duration apprenticeships is due to be finalised by April.

A total of 87 providers have so far been reviewed by the Skills Funding Agency and National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) for running programmes which last six months or less.

However, 29 have been brought to a “satisfactory conclusion” and the review has identified 10 primary contractors and three subcontractors where the Agency and NAS have unresolved concerns. At least one case has been referred to the Agency’s Special Investigations Unit.

However, the Agency said: “We are working with providers to review and adapt programmes as necessary and whilst this is ongoing it would not be appropriate to release in detail.”

The Agency also said three frameworks are under review, adding: “We are working with the relevant Sector Skills Councils to ensure these will meet the criteria that apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds should have a minimum duration of 12 months. The wider next steps and ongoing review will continue to be done in consultation with providers, sector and issuing authorities.”

The news came as part of Mr Hayes’ statement to parliament on progress to drive up quality, as well as introducing new measures for the coming months. Among those is a new ‘enquiry panel’ which has been set up to “manage contractual and quality failure” as soon as it is identified.

The panel, made up of representatives from the Agency and the NAS, has met once and will report to the minister.

Mr Hayes said: “The majority of apprenticeships are the gold standard in vocational training.

“We must be relentless in our drive to ensure all apprenticeships are as good as the best, to identify and root out any instances of poor quality provision, and to raise the bar on standards.

“I am determined to build on this momentum and go further so as more people than ever have the opportunity to undertake an apprenticeship, every one will receive the high quality training they deserve.”

Another new measure will be a requirement for sub-contractors with an aggregate contract value of more than £500,000 to pass a due diligence test.

An Agency spokesperson said the move has been made to “strengthen our oversight and management of the wider training provider organisation network”.

The spokesperson added: “This does not remove or reduce the responsibilities or due diligence processes exercised by prime training organisations when selecting or managing their subcontractors.

“If a subcontractor fails to pass the Due Diligence Assurance Gateway, we will review and alert prime contractors. Prime contractors may continue with the subcontractor, but such failure would signal the need for additional checks and a higher level of diligence, monitoring and review on the part of the prime contractor.”

The Gateway process is made up of two parts; an online questionnaire and an assessment of financial health based on latest accounts.

However, the spokesperson added: “The Agency is currently working with the sector in considering all subcontractors completing the Due Diligence Assurance Gateway of the Register regardless of size of contract.

“All subcontracting must meet the same delivery, quality and value for money as the rest of our provision. The Agency is working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to review its policy on sub-contracting and will set out its intentions to the sector once a formal position is agreed.”

Simon Waugh, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said “sound progress” is being made.

He said: “Historically, growth in apprenticeships has been excellent but hasn’t always been matched by quality.

“The actions we are taking now are to clearly state expected standards, strengthen the processes of monitoring and assuring these standards and address any areas that fall short.”

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Paul Champion
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HR Magazine – Apprenticeships face ‘identity crisis’, according to Forum of Private Bu siness

http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/hro/news/1020950/apprenticeships-identity-crisis-forum-private-business

Apprenticeships face ‘identity crisis’, according to Forum of Private Business

David Woods, 02 Mar 2012

The Forum’s senior policy adviser Alex Jackman gave evidence to the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) select committee’s inquiry into apprenticeships in the House of Commons yesterday.

Jackman told MPs shorter apprenticeships have faced criticism from UK business owners, particularly those in traditional industries such as manufacturing and engineering, who argue they do not provide the same value as the longer schemes they run – despite evidence of their popularity among more service-orientated sectors including retail.

He said: “At a general level we have spent decades devaluing GCSEs, A-levels and degrees by making them easier to pass. It is just not acceptable to devalue apprenticeships in the same way.

“Apprenticeships are facing an identity crisis over how entrepreneurs view shorter courses. Business owners in more traditional industries often doubt their value relative to the longer schemes they run, and even question whether they should be branded as apprenticeships at all, but others – in retail, for example – see many benefits.

“It is of course important that shorter apprenticeships are more than simply glorified training schemes, hitting businesses in the pocket for little in return, and we should guard against diluting courses so they fall below industry standards, but, providing these schemes are accredited, shown to address real skills needs and are well regarded, even as ‘entry level’ apprenticeships, they should rightly be valued, protected and promoted.

“But we do need more awareness of the differences between intense, four-year apprenticeships and shorter schemes, greater clarity about their applicability to businesses in different industries and more centralised information about where to source information, funding and courses.”

In its submission to the official inquiry the Forum argued that central government could be more effective in overcoming the lack of clarity over information about apprenticeships as a result of the numerous routes through which to seek advice.

The not-for-profit employer body welcomed recent improvements to the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), particularly its commitment to advertise a firm’s apprenticeship position within one month, place an apprentice within thee months, and remove any health and safety requirements that go beyond national standards.

The Forum reported generally positive feedback on NAS’s activities, including its national contract management – but noted some continuing problems associated with sub-contracting training and courses and called for more awareness of the breadth of professions running apprenticeship schemes – including services such accountancy as well as traditional sectors such as manufacturing.

With resources scarce for small firms there is a need for robust data and feedback on the effectiveness of courses to ensure quality control. Closer interaction between training providers and local businesses would be beneficial.

Further, the Forum believes that reinstating independent careers advice in schools and colleges would develop greater understanding of the value of apprenticeships within the education system.

In the interests of flexibility and meeting the specific needs of small businesses, the Forum also called for more incentives to encourage firms to take on apprentices, for example via tax breaks and building on the direct, employer-led funding initiative currently being piloted.

Forum research suggests 46% of small businesses use day release and college training apprenticeships, 31% traditional ‘on-the-job’ training schemes, 26% work trials taking on long-term unemployed people on 30-day trials.

Barriers to taking on apprenticeships include red tape – with 22% of respondents citing health and safety regulations. Many business owners believe risk assessments lack ‘common sense’.

Employment law is also a major issue. In all, 78% of Forum members said they would be encouraged to take on more young people if was easier to let recent recruits go should they not work out, with 54% suggesting reducing red tape when recruiting and 74% lowering employment costs more generally.

In order to make training and skills more employer-focused 25% called for apprenticeships to be better tailored to their needs. Further, 23% called for tax cuts and 31% training vouchers.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

Apprenticeships in the spotlight | FE Week

http://www.feweek.co.uk/2012/03/02/apprenticeships-in-the-spotlight/

Apprenticeships in the spotlight

Left to right - Select Committee witnesses: Alex Jackman, Forum of Private Business Denis Hird, JTL Training and Graham Hoyle, AELP

Left to right – Select Committee witnesses: Alex Jackman, Forum of Private Business Denis Hird, JTL Training and Graham Hoyle, AELP

Employer contributions and the ‘rebadging’ of former Train to Gain provision were both heavily debated at the first evidence session of the BIS Select Committee inquiry into apprenticeships.

The two hour session, held at Portcullis House in Westminster last Thursday, covered a wide range of issues about the funding, delivery and quality of the apprenticeship programme.

Graham Hoyle, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), Alex Jackman, senior policy adviser at the Forum of Private Business (FPB) and Denis Hird, chief executive of JTL Training, were called on by the committee to explain some of the growing issues in the sector.

Mr Hoyle said on the panel the issue of who paid for an apprenticeship was “a nettle yet to be fully grasped” and any changes in the funding system would need to consider the returns of all three beneficiaries; the learner, the employer and central government.

Mr Hoyle said: “The one we haven’t tackled yet is – what is it therefore the employers are paying if they’re getting a return?

“My own view is that they should be paying for the basic skill competencies.”

Mr Hird agreed that employer contributions were an issue that needed to be addressed both by the further education sector and central government.

“We need to understand what apprenticeships are, what is company training, what is company induction, what should be funded, what shouldn’t be funded and what employers contribute to,” Mr Hird said.

Earlier in the session Mr Hoyle said the apprenticeship programme should be owned by employers because it was in fact businesses, not government, who were paying for the majority of the delivery.

“We need to revisit who is paying for what within apprenticeships,” Mr Hoyle said.

“The prime contributors and payers at present time are employers – although we don’t put it in that way – with a contribution from the government.”

However, the AELP chief executive maintained that it should be the government’s responsibility to fund the educational elements of the apprenticeship framework to learners of all ages.

Mr Hoyle said: “My own view is that the government should be making sure that individuals are continued to be funded to get them up to a basic level of English, maths, literacy, numeracy and functional skills, so they can play a part in the labour market and get the transferable skills they need to move to the next employer.

“I believe the state have a reasonable responsibility to complete the education of those people.”

Members of the BIS Select Committee, led by Adrian Bailey MP, said they were worried government funding was being used to deliver training which would have otherwise been paid for by the employer.

David Ward, MP for Bradford East and a member of the BIS Select Committee, said: “I am a little bit worried about some of these apprentices, these older apprentices.

“The criticism that is there, which we referred to earlier, is that it’s just ongoing personal development and it’s not professional development.

We need to revisit who is paying for what within apprenticeships”

“If it’s personal development, it should just be happening anyway and why badge that with this apprenticeship title? That’s the thing I’m unsure about.”

Mr Ward then asked the panel to respond to the accusation that the record growth in apprenticeships could be attributed mostly to the conversion of Train to Gain delivery.

Mr Hird admitted that the ‘rebadging’ of Train to Gain courses, especially in the retail sector, had damaged the apprenticeship brand.

“I think what has been unfortunate is large volumes in the supermarket chain where they’ve badged up some of their induction programmes as apprenticeships to rack up the statistics,” Mr Hird said.

“Whilst I think that is good and I think the chap from Asda, who is actually an ex-work colleague of mine, he said whilst they had put 25,000 through he hadn’t created one extra job.”

Mr Jackman told FE Week it was unfair to blame large employers for taking advantage of government schemes which would help support their daily operations.

Speaking after the evidence session, the senior policy adviser highlighted the work of Barclays, a high street bank set to launch a new apprenticeship scheme in April for 1,000 people not in employment, education or training (NEET).

Perhaps most importantly, Mr Jackman said Barclays would be running the scheme without any government contributions.

Mr Jackman said: “At the end of the process the view being taken by Barclays is – if they move onto other banks, that is something they have contributed to the industry, but if they stay within Barclays themselves, then that’s something they’ve contributed towards their own business.”

Earlier in the session Mr Hoyle was quick to defend the negative remarks about Train to Gain, describing the scheme as being “rubbished too easily” during its existence.

The AELP chief executive said: “Train to Gain, despite much of what was written, was a very successful scheme at actually upskilling the adult workforce.

“That’s the view of myself, my members and the employers that worked with it.”

Mr Jackman also defended short duration apprenticeships during the evidence session, suggesting they be rebranded as “basic” or “entry” level apprenticeships.

After the session Mr Jackman told FE Week: “I think there is a mismatch at present between what a lot of employers consider to be an apprenticeship and what the government might consider to be an apprenticeship.

“But that is not to say that either of them are wrong.

“I think as long as you can ensure quality within courses which match up to what an apprenticeship is considered to be.

“As long as you ensure money isn’t being sucked away from SMEs, then I see no reason why some shorter apprenticeships should not be counted as such.”

Q&A with Denis Hird, CEO of JTL Training

You mentioned to the committee that you were disappointed with the 25,000 apprenticeship places created at Asda. Can you expand upon that?

First of all, I’m not being critical of Asda. There was huge pressure on the National Apprenticeship Service to raise the number of apprenticeships and so therefore if you look at how Asda is introducing young people into their business – they have a training programme, which I’m pretty sure is a good one knowing Asda – and that it’s been branded as an apprenticeship. And that’s to save money. I can’t blame Asda for doing that because it has met the targets. And that’s all good! Good for young people, good for Asda.

But what I think David Smith, the HR director of Asda was saying on national TV was that they would have spent the money and they were going to employ that 25,000. So in actual fact they haven’t created any extra jobs through that process.

Is there a concern that employers would have provided the training even if the apprenticeship funding hadn’t been available?

Absolutely. But you can’t blame Asda for taking the money and you can’t blame the National Apprenticeship Service because it lifted the statistics by 25,000. From our point of view, what it does is, it says that that short programme of training – and it’ll be very good and we need people to do those very good jobs that they do – is that it potentially erodes at the brand of our four year and two month programme at the top end of our electrotechnical and building services frameworks.

I’m not saying it is wrong, I’m saying it needs to be looked at in a different way about what is an apprenticeship and what isn’t, what are the various levels and what is the best use of government funding.

Would asking large employers to make a financial contribution to training help ensure there were new jobs and additional training?

I think that large employers can play a major role in giving opportunities for apprenticeships in work for young people. I think that the funding bodies, in particular the Skills Funding Agency, with advice as well from the National Apprenticeship Service, can work with those employers at what the best and most appropriate way is to use government funding in part of the strategic funding and plans for those large employers.

That’s a discussion that they should have. I don’t have a view other than it’s good news if it’s going to bring more people into apprenticeships and into jobs.

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Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

BBC News – Eurozone unemployment continues to rise

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17219160

Eurozone unemployment continues to rise

1 March 2012 Last updated at 11:31

Students and the unemployed take part in a protest against austerity cuts and lack of jobs in NaplesAusterity cuts and a lack of jobs have led to protests on the streets of Italy

The unemployment rate in the eurozone continued to rise in January, hitting another record high.

The jobless rate in the 17 countries that use the euro rose to 10.7% in January, while December’s figure was revised up from 10.4% to 10.6%.

There are now 16.9 million people out of work in the bloc, Eurostat said.

In Italy, the unemployment rate rose to 9.2% in January, the highest since monthly records began, the national statistics agency Istat said.

Italian unemployment had stood at 8.9% in December, but it is now at the highest rate since the first quarter of 2001, as the country finds itself in a second recession in four years.

Spain continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the euro area at 23.3%, while Austria has the lowest at 4%.

‘Huge divergence’

In its latest unemployment report, Eurostat said the unemployment rate in the 27 EU countries reached 10.1% in January, with a total of 24.3 million people out of work.

December’s jobless rate was also revised up from 9.9% to 10%.

The data comes a day after the European Central Bank (ECB) said it had provided a further 530bn euros ($713bn; £448bn) of low-interest loans to 800 banks across the EU.

The announcement appeared to have been welcomed by the market, with banking shares rising strongly on Wednesday.

But Steen Jakobsen, chief economist at Saxo Bank, said: “Despite the euphoria in the banking sector following the ECB’s loan programme, the real economy remains very depressed and the key factor is the unemployment rate, both socially and because of the damage to growth.

“If you look at Spain’s unemployment rate, it is up two percentage points in January and even Italy’s rate continues to rise, so I am concerned that we really are lacking the fundamental reforms needed for growth.

“There’s a huge divergence between the feelgood factor in the stock market and what’s happening in the real economy. For all the money the ECB is printing, there isn’t yet a big boost for companies in terms of credit.”

‘Double whammy’

Meanwhile, separate data from Eurostat showed that inflation in the euro area rose to 2.7% in February, rising slightly from 2.6% in January.

It marks the 15th month in a row that inflation has been above the ECB’s target of just below 2%.

Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight, said it amounted to a “double whammy of bad news” for the eurozone.

“This is particularly bad news for consumers, as they are not only facing high and rising unemployment, but also still squeezed purchasing power,” he said.

“It had been hoped that eurozone consumer price inflation would be heading down markedly by now, but these hopes are being scuppered by high oil prices.”

The data comes ahead of a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels, where they are set to discuss growth and jobs.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

HR Magazine – Making the most of your apprentices

http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/hro/features/1020939/making-apprentices

Making the most of your apprentices

As we start looking through the candidates’ CVs, I started to think how important it is that both the potential entrant and the recruiting organisation put sufficient time and effort into the selection process, to make the most of the scheme.

We have been running our nationwide programme since 2010, as engineering skills are essential to our business. We make sure that our apprentices learn the vital skills that work best for our organisation, through a mix of on-the-job training, classroom learning and other development opportunities. So far we have taken on fourteen apprentices and we have just begun our search for even more budding engineers.

It’s so important to make sure you recruit the right people; you will invest a lot in them over the course of the training. Before you start, think about the type of candidate that will help to take the business forward. Apprentices need to demonstrate, in their application, that they have a willingness to take responsibility, a desire to progress and a sense of loyalty. This means they need to have researched the market as well as your business, knowing exactly why they want to work for you. Finding people who have the potential to progress through the company means that, one day, they could end up running it. When recruiting, it’s also important to remember that, as well as attracting outside talent, apprenticeships can open up a new career path to existing employees, increasing staff motivation and retention.

One of the major benefits of an apprenticeship scheme is that, when structured well, it tailors experience to your business’ exact needs. In addition, you can train people in skills that may be few in the market, and developing them on-site means that you align them closely to your business’ way of working.

For both the new recruit and the organisation, it’s important to combine both on and off the job training. The requirements of the scheme need to be clear, including various activities and modules within the programme and providing exposure to different areas and people within the business. Marking progress, with clear milestones to be achieved over the course of the programme is also important, as is a defined support network of people to help recruits build their confidence. At Britvic, we give each apprentice a technical buddy and business mentor, which provide access to networks of people in similar situations. We have regular development days and social events where apprentices are encouraged to share their experiences in an informal environment.

It’s important to think of apprentices in the long term; not just their initial training period. Those who meet your performance expectations must have a job at the end of the programme and a clear idea of how they will fit into the business moving forwards. Letting an apprentice go at the end of their training sends a very poor message about how your business values its people; it’s a two way investment of time and commitment. The Warwick Institute of Employment Research shows that the time required for employers to recoup their investment is between two and three years. Keep checking in with your employees, making sure they continue to be happy and inspired. Monitor the work they are contributing to and you will see firsthand the positive investment which they bring to the business.

Sue Skinner (pictured), director of HR delivery at Britvic

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

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Government urged to secure future of Tees Valley apprenticeship scheme (From The Northern Echo)

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/business/9561634.Government_urged_to_secure_future_of_Tees_Valley_apprenticeship_scheme/

Government urged to secure future of Tees Valley apprenticeship scheme

8:00am Thursday 1st March 2012 in North-East Business News Photograph of the Author By Andy Richardson

MINISTERS will decide later this month if a scheme that’s kick-started careers for hundreds of Tees Valley youngsters gets a cash injection to secure its future.

After putting their case to Skills Minister John Hayes in Westminster a delegation of the regions business and political leaders voiced hopes that the Tees Valley Apprenticeship Programme (TVAP) will survive and have an even bigger impact region-wide.

The TVAP, which runs out of cash at the end of this month, (March 2012) has been credited with creating and safeguarding almost 300 apprenticeships in the area over the last two years at a cost to the taxpayer of about £1.8m.

Mr Hayes heard how a further injection of a similar amount of public money will allow the scheme to be extended across the wider North- East, and also to become self-sustaining in two years time.

The employer-led TVAP is managed through the National Skills Academy for the Process Industries (NSAPI), which is based in Darlington. It led to 134 Tees Valley employers being persuaded to take on apprentices. Those involved included high profile businesses in the chemicals industries, as well as 80 small and medium-sized companies, including Cordell, CA Pumps Limited and Intellect UK, 43 of whom had never taken on an apprentice before.

TVAP chairman George Ritchie, senior vice president for human resources with Sembcorp Industries and chair of the North-East regional ambassadors of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) led the delegation to London.

The party included representatives from the process sector: Dr Stan Higgins, chief executive of NEPIC, and Ian Mains, business development director of NSAPI, alongside Allan Wallace, employer services director of NAS and Heather Smithson of NSAPI who is also project director of TVAP.

They were supported at the meeting by a cross party delegation of local MPs who set aside political rivalries to hail the success of the apprenticeship programme.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, Labour’s Shadow Business Minister, led the politicians who included Redcar Lib Dem Ian Swales, Middlesbrough South and East Clevelands Tom Blenkinsop and Stockton Norths Alex Cunningham; both Labour MPs.

Mr Hayes told the delegates they should hear within the next five weeks whether their bid for additional funding had been successful.

Mr Ritchie said: “The Minister was very gracious with his time and he and his team listened intently to what we had to say. He was clearly extremely impressed with the success of the scheme in an area where jobs creation is absolutely vital and we showed him how this fits the Governments agenda on apprenticeships perfectly.

“The thrust of our case was that there is a real opportunity to build on TVAPs success and firmly cement the idea into employers minds that apprenticeships like this, which give young people fantastic skills, are producing people who have the ability to grow their businesses. “Many of those on the TVAP scheme have now been taken on as full time employees by their sponsoring companies because they are bringing real value to those businesses.

“That message is particularly important for those employers who perhaps dont have access to the support resources that bigger businesses have or the same confidence to take on an apprentice.

“The smaller and medium-sized firms who have engaged in this process have in fact become the best ambassadors for apprenticeships, particularly those who have never had an apprentice before, and we know they can be extremely influential over the next few years in persuading others throughout the wider region to display the same faith in our young people as we have in the Tees Valley.”

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

Barclays launch 1,000 apprenticeships to tackle youth unemployment

http://m.myfinances.co.uk/savings/2012/03/01/barclays-launch-1-000-apprenticeships-to-tackle-youth-unempl

Barclays launch 1,000 apprenticeships to tackle youth unemployment

Thursday, 1 March 2012 5:27 PM

Barclays has announced a £20 million programme that it is offering 1,000 new apprenticeships to young people with no prior experience or qualifications.

Barclays has launched an apprenticeship programme for 1,000 young people

Barclays has launched an apprenticeship programme for 1,000 young people

Barclays Apprenticeship Programme is open from today and is designed to give young people their first crucial opportunity to carve out a career in banking. The first successful applicants will begin working from the end of April.

The offer is open to join Barclays Retail or Business Banking divisions and applicants can apply through the National Apprenticeship Service website.

New apprentices will be paid an entrance level salary, receive dedicated training, support and mentoring and be given the chance to progress to a permanent position.

Trainees will work towards receiving a qualification in financial services similar to an NVQ. They could also pass qualifications in numeracy and literacy and receive a BTEC award.

Opportunities will be available in London, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Sunderland, Birmingham, Northampton and Coventry.

Antony Jenkins, Chief Executive of Barclays Retail and Business Banking, said: “Britain faces a real challenge with many young people who have potential and want to work but are currently struggling to get their first job opportunity.”

The roles on offer range across providing services to customers in Barclays’ branches as well the its operational and contact centres.

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Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920