Social enterprise needs definition to go mainstream

The Social Enterprise Mark is a credible guarantee of motivation, says the Social Enterprise Mark Company’s managing director

Social Enterprise Mark award

Iridescent Ideas CIC receiving the Mark by Worker Co-op, Development Trust and social enterprise colleagues from the Plymouth Social Enterprise Network

The Social Enterprise Mark is the certification authority for social enterprises. The certification process does not attempt to prescribe business, organisation, or any legal structures that they may adopt, such as charities, community interest companies, limited by share or by guarantee.

The Mark was originally developed with the sector, for the sector. It took the widely recognised and accepted definition of social enterprise and conducted extensive consultation and research, which led to the development of the certification criteria. These are rigorously applied and overseen by an independent certification panel to assure credibility and consistency.

If you agree that social enterprises, with any legal structure from CLG, CIC to charities, can develop along a spectrum from start-up, emerging, to established and mature, there will always be a debate around which point on the spectrum any criteria or assessment can be applied. This will inevitably lead to extensive debate around definitions and application of any criteria.

As Malcolm Sutton, a Mark-certified Tender Management Community Services CIC, explains “I would argue that all social enterprises have an element of ‘charity’ in them – how different is the ‘social purpose’ from the ‘charitable objective’? And equally that the majority of charities have to have an element of ‘business’ to what they do.”

The criteria are not set in stone and continue to respond to the needs of social enterprises. We are independent of any public funding and just 18 months old, but with rigorous assessment process, the number of Mark holders is progressing steadily.

Social enterprises are looking for accreditation to prove they operate as genuine social enterprises, and we give them the tools to differentiate themselves. In the light of the increasing demand for shareholder transparency, the Mark provides the only credible indicator that shareholder profit is not the motivation for operation.

Internationally, negotiations are being held with many countries, including Finland and South Africa, where the Mark is of great interest as an aspirational goal for the social enterprise movement.

Social purpose contributions or corporate social responsibility are good in their own way, but do not address the core principle that social enterprises exist to benefit people and planet. If there is any question on why social enterprises should differentiate themselves from private enterprise, read ‘Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist’. With corporations able to generate private profit margins of up to 36% from work that has been publicly funded, there has never been a better time for social enterprises to demonstrate their better way of doing business.

What Mark holders have to say

Daniel RousFurniture Plus

“Yet again, we find ourselves in a discussion over labelling. As long as (in no particular order) OSCR, Companies House, Inland Revenue and the general public are happy with what is being done then let’s just get on with reaping social benefit for as many as possible.”

Chris Bailey, Westway Development Trust

“What matters in social enterprise is that we do not have people setting up things and calling them social enterprises when they are not, or when those organisations work in a way which is at odds with what the general public expects of a social enterprise.”

Lucy Findlay is Managing Director of the Social Enterprise Mark Company, which aims to increase mainstream understanding of social enterprises as a better way of doing business in the UK and beyond.

Gateshead College Launches Low Carbon Vehicle Academy

Gateshead College Launches Low Carbon Vehicle Academy Gateshead track

The number of electric and hybrid cars on UK roads is rapidly growing and sometime in near future it’ll overtake fossil fuel cars. Obviously, There is a need for experts to help people easing the transition.

That’s what Gateshead College of North East England has been thinking. So they came up with a dedicated academy for low carbon vehicle industry. They have also opened North of England’s first public access Performance Track as part of the project.

Gateshead College’s Skills Academy for Sustainable Manufacturing and Innovation (SASMI) is the UK’s first education centre dedicated to the clean technologies sector. Housed in a state-of-the-art new £9.8 million building in Washington, Tyne & Wear, SASMI will deliver a wide range of low carbon vehicles skills training, with a focus on the automotive industry.

Green cars, electric vehicles in particular, bring with them a whole new lifestyle and new driving habits. For instance, you can’t just tow an electric car if the battery died, as it’ll damage the internal systems. There are many new things to learn about them, and that’s why the idea of a dedicated academy is not outlandish. Current courses include training for first responders, helping the emergency services and roadside rescue operators to safely deal with high voltagehybrid and electric vehicles. This will be followed by innovative courses dedicated to the production of EVs.

Mick Brophy, Managing Director of Business, Innovation & Development at Gateshead College, said: “North East England is at the heart of the UK’s emerging low carbon vehicle sector, making it the ideal home for the country’s first sustainable skills academy.

“If Britain is to continue to lead the world in the development and adoption of cleaner vehicles, we must also lead in training the people who will design, build and service them.  The Academy will support the growth of a new automotive industry, delivering the skill sets needed for these vital green-collar jobs.”

Along with Nissan and the region’s leading supply chain, the two new facilities form the hub of the Government’s £200m Low Carbon Enterprise Zone, which is expected to create 7,000 new  jobs in the region over the next decade.

Government cuts apprenticeship red tape

Boost for employers as Government outlines new measures on cutting red tape deterring employers from taking on apprentices.

 Scissors cutting red tape

Skills Minister John Hayes has announced a package of new measures to make it easier for employers to take on large numbers of apprentices.

Payments will be simplified, contracts streamlined and a number of data returns and audit requirements will be eliminated.

Mr Hayes said that firms that contract directly with the Government to train apprentices will now benefit from simplified payment, reporting and assessment requirements.

They will also receive better guidance to help them manage the recruitment, training and assessment of apprentices more efficiently and cost effectively.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“Apprenticeships are proving an increasingly effective training route for young people and companies. They are a proven way to fill skills gaps in our economy. That’s why we are boosting the number of apprenticeships and putting them at the heart of our Skills for Growth strategy.

“But for far too long too many businesses have been put off by overly complex procedures and unnecessary layers of paperwork. We’ve worked with business to cut bureaucracy and ensure the benefits for employers, learners and the economy are maximised”.

Action plan for cutting red tape

Announcing the measures at a summit hosted by the CBI today, Mr Hayes said:

“I’m determined that more employers and learners than ever should have the opportunity to benefit from our unprecedented investment in apprenticeships. Where red tape and bureaucracy deters employers from taking on apprentices, we’ll sweep it away.

“That will give more firms access to the skills they need to thrive, creating new jobs and new growth, and it will give many more individuals better prospects and the chance to gain a real stake in society.”

Measures for cutting red tape for employers include:

  • A pilot for over 20 large employers who have volunteered to trial “payment by outcomes” which will eliminate a number of data returns and audit requirements.
  • Providing an online plain-English toolkit for employers that clearly explains the end-to-end processes employers need to undertake for apprenticeships.
  • Streamlining contracting arrangements.
  • A commitment to no “in year” changes to contracting arrangements.
  • A more proportionate approach to audit and inspection – reducing preparation time for employers.
  • Greater use of electronic information, thus reducing paperwork.
  • A more streamlined certification process.

These measures follow the recommendations of a review led by the Employer Reference Group, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and large companies, including BT and TUI Travel.

Susan Anderson, the CBI’s director for education and skills policy, said: “Cutting bureaucracy will support even more businesses to become involved and these recommendations set out the right path for reform.

“They recognise that employers are primarily concerned with the day-to-day running of their businesses, and that they are committed to offering high quality training as their reputation and business success depends on this.”

Employers urged to work with unions to increase Apprenticeships among BME communities

Employers are being urged to work with trade unions to increase black and minority ethnic (BME) communities’ participation rates in Apprenticeships by unionlearn, the TUC’s learning and skills organisation.

According to estimates by the National Apprenticeship Service, only eight per cent of Apprenticeships are currently taken up by members of BME groups.

“Unionlearn is calling on employers to reconsider their recruitment strategies to ensure that the apprentices they employ reflect the diversity of the area where the workplace is based,” said unionlearn director Tom Wilson.

“Employers should make a special effort to offer work experience and open days to young BME people.”

Linda Clarke, professor of European industrial relations at Westminster Business School, who has researched obstacles for ethnic minorities in accessing vocational training in the construction industry, said: “The reality is that many employers still want to work with people like themselves. So if they are white and male, the chances are they’ll look to recruit similar types.”

There were 279,700 Apprenticeship starts in the 2009/10 academic year, and Skills Minister John Hayes has announced aspirations to surpass an all-time record of 400,000 apprentices. However, only 30 per cent of companies of 500+ currently take on apprentices.

Versa Professional Services plans to join unionlearn in hosting an event to raise awareness to increase the numbers of young people from BME groups who take up Apprenticeship training.

Simon Tepper, Versa’s director of diversity in Apprenticeships, said: “We know that by ensuring that all young people are able to make an economic contribution to our society that we will grow stronger as a society.

“Apprenticeships are becoming ever more popular with young people who see the clear advantages of receiving a wage whilst training. Many apprentices value the adult atmosphere of work and are encouraged to take higher levels of training throughout their career. The conference will give the opportunity to hear directly from apprentices and employers.”

Mark Thompson

500 apprentices wanted for hotel management programme


The company is looking for its first 50 apprentices this summer for the new scheme titled JuMP (Junior Management Programme).

JuMP is a fast track route into management and offers A -level students (18+) with an alternative to going to university. On this programme college leavers can continue their education, obtain work experience, receive a salary and become a manager by the age of 21.

Travelodge have launched the scheme on response to Chancellor George Osborne’s appeal for British companies to generate more high value apprenticeship placements to help the one million young people currently out of work in the UK to gain jobs.

Guy Parsons, Travelodge CEO commented: “Our nationwide JuMP programme offers school leavers an alternative career choice, to going to university. The fast track management programme provides a real job, with the opportunity of on the job training throughout the business, combined with further education and the opportunity to earn up to £30,000. In contrast to going to university and graduating with a debt of £43,224* and facing an overcrowded jobs market.

Skills Minister John Hayes said: “Apprenticeships are a great way for young people to get the training they need to build successful careers, and for businesses to train a new generation of employees with the skills that drive growth.  I applaud Travelodge for its commitment to apprenticeships; and with additional funding of £180m in this budget alone, this government is enabling more employers to follow its lead”.

In support of its JuMP scheme, Travelodge surveyed British youngsters aged 16 to 18 years old, to gain their views on going to university and apprenticeships. The key findings are listed below:

  • (71%) of respondents are questioning the value of going to university due to the rising costs and the apparent lack of graduate jobs in the current market.
  • (53%) of school leavers think it’s vital to have a degree to become a manager in a major UK company.
  • (51%) of 16 – 18 year olds would not associate an apprenticeship scheme with a management job and 53% think it would not be possible to become a manager at the age of 21 without going to university.
  • (53%) of 16 – 18 year olds stated they are worried about their future due to Government cut backs.
  • (68%) of respondents stated working in the UK tourism industry is not an aspirational job
  • Only 20% of 16 – 18 year olds thought the UK tourism industry is one of the country’s top performing industries.

Respondents predicted if they went to university, the average debt they would have upon graduation is £21,884; which is well below the predicted figure of £43,224 by the Government.

Guy Parsons, Travelodge CEO said: “In response to our survey findings, it’s right that today’s youth should be concerned about their future. In today’s economic climate, going to university does not guarantee a job upon graduation. It’s also very concerning that school leavers don’t really know the cost of going to university and think its £22,000 when the reality is more than double this figure as stated by the Government.  Also there is a lot of naivety around apprenticeship schemes and the UK tourism industry. Therefore, I am hopeful that our JuMP initiative will help dismiss these outdated, snobbish views and that today’s youth will see the potential of becoming a leader; in a powerhouse industry of the future.”

On the Travelodge JuMP scheme, apprentices will experience practical, vocational learning in hotel management, retail, operations, marketing and customer service. Apprentices will attain a L2 Apprenticeship in Multi Skilled Hospitality and a L3 Diploma (Advanced Apprenticeship) in hospitality Supervision & Leadership. Upon completing the apprenticeship programme apprentices will undertake the Travelodge in house 12 week management programme and then graduate to a management role.
A JuMP apprentice is expected to earn in total between £25,000 to £30,000 from training to graduation.

So, is it worth getting a degree? One in five graduates is earning less than a school leaver

One in five graduates earns less than a person who left school with as little as one A-level.

The official figures raise doubts that thousands of students have wasted their time with ‘useless’ degrees.

On average, the Office for National Statistics says that a person with a degree or higher academic qualification, such as a PhD, earns £16.10 an hour.

New figures released today reveal 20% of graduates earn less than those with just A-Levels

By comparison, a person who got at least one A level, or an equivalent qualification, typically earns £10 an hour.

The figure could be even worse in reality because the ONS did not include graduates who are unemployed or who have never worked.

The study also said the proportion of graduates doing low-skilled, badly-paid work has quadrupled to 2.3 per cent since 1993. Many of these end up doing jobs which require little or no training such as hotel porter, postman, cleaner or catering assistant.

20 per cent of employees with a degree earn less than someone with just A-Levels
15 per cent of employees with a degree earn less than someone with just GCSEs
People in the UK who have a degree has doubled from 12 per cent in 1993 to 25 per cent in 2010
Typical hourly pay for employees with GCSEs is £8.68, £10 for A-levels and £16.10 with a degree

Business groups have repeatedly warned that employers are turning their backs on graduates.

A recent report from the British Chambers of Commerce said too many graduates have ‘fairly useless degrees in non-serious subjects’.

Phil McCabe from the Forum of Private Business said: ‘The value of a degree is dwindling.’

Tanya de Grunwald, founder of Graduate, a website for job-seeking graduates, said many are devastated by the salaries they are offered.

She said: ‘Finally, the figures from the ONS back up what our graduates have been saying – that they are just not getting the quality of job that they thought their degree would lead to.

‘One politics and economics graduate told me a massive career low was when he got a day’s trial at a pound shop – and did not get the job.

‘People say that a graduate typically earns £26,000, but this doesn’t reflect the reality. Many of them are just scraping the barrel.’

One anonymous contributor to a student website wrote: ‘If I could have my time back, I wouldn’t have gone to university.

‘I graduated last year and work in a friend’s café for £6 an hour.’

A separate report, published yesterday, asked more than 4,000 people whether they would recommend a young person to go to university.

Just 29 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 said they would ‘actively encourage’ it, according to the poll commissioned by the Pearson Centre for Policy and Learning.

A spokesman for the Department for Business insisted that university is not an expensive waste of time for many people.

She said: ‘Our studies show that graduates earn, on average, around £100,000 more across their working lives, as well as having other benefits such as greater rates of employment and improved health status.’

More Young People Not Working Or Studying

One in six 16 to 24-year-olds are not studying, working or in training amid fears young people have been hit hardest by job losses.

Recent job figures also suggest 20% of 16 to 24-year-olds are jobless
Department for Education statistics show 979,000 people in this age range were classified as “Neets” – those not in education, employment or training – between April and June.

That is 107,000 more than the same time of year in 2010 and 126,000 more than five years ago. It is the highest figure for April to June since 2006.

Unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds rose slightly at the start of this year, with 20.2% out of work. Putting young people on the dole is a waste of money and a waste of their potential.
Shadow education secretary Andy Burnham

The prospects for those at the older end of the age range appear to be worst with 19.1% of 19 to 24-year-olds in this category, compared to 9.8% 16 to 18-year-olds.

The prospects are not much better for school-leavers, with almost one in 10 16 to 18-year-olds not studying, working or in training.
Skills minister John Hayes said: “We’re taking action to get our young people into work, helping restore a sense of responsibility and pride in our communities.

“Having built the largest apprenticeships programme our country has seen, we’ll now do more to get young people who lack basic skills up to speed.”

The Government says it is improving and expanding apprenticeship schemesOfficial figures show the 2008-2009 recession led to an increase in the number of young people who were jobless.
In 2008, the unemployment rate for people this age was 14%. By 2011 it was up a further 6%.

Shadow education secretary Andy Burnham accused the Government of being “far too complacent” about young people and said a generation risks being left behind.

“Putting young people on the dole is a waste of money and a waste of their potential,” he said.

“By scrapping Labour’s guarantee of an apprenticeship place for young people who want one, scrapping the EMA and cutting careers services, this Government is making it harder for young people to get on – so that for the first time there is a risk that the next generation will do worse than the last.”

History of Apprenticeships (From NAS Site)



Britain has a long history of Apprenticeships, which stretches back to the guilds of the Middle Ages. In 1563 the system became more prescribed and regulated: the Elizabethan Statute of Artificers set out terms and conditions for training (including a duration of seven years and for the master–apprentice relationship). Apprenticeships expanded in the following two centuries, with new legislation on working conditions, environment and the conduct of apprentices in their leisure time.

Another milestone of legislation was passed in 1802 – the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act, whose provisions included a 12-hour working day and a requirement that factory apprentices were taught reading, writing and arithmetic. These developments led to the repeal of the 1563 Statute in 1814. After that year, practising a skill although un-Apprenticed was no longer illegal. The new act also loosened statutory controls over Apprenticeships, by removing the requirement for a minimum of seven years to be spent on one.

By the late nineteenth century, Apprenticeships had spread from artisan trades such as building and printing to the newer industries of engineering and shipbuilding – and later to plumbing and electrical work. Although there were approximately 240,000 apprentices by the mid 1960s, there were growing concerns about the effectiveness of Apprenticeship training. It was criticised for its exclusivity, for being male-dominated, for focusing on serving time rather than on outcomes, and for a failure to embrace new and expanding occupations. Numbers had decreased to some 53,000 (‘average in learning‘ figure) by 1990 – the decline was exacerbated by rising post-16 participation in full-time education, a lack of public funding for Apprenticeships, and the effect of the Youth Training Scheme and Youth Training programme. These initiatives catered for young people who might otherwise have done an Apprenticeship, but the quality of provision was often questionable and both programmes contributed to a poor perception of vocational training generally.

Since the mid 1990s, governments have been rebuilding the programme in an adjusted economic and institutional context. This has required state support, as has been the case in almost all countries with a sizeable Apprenticeship programme (the level of state intervention in this country has varied over recent decades, from levy-funded programmes via the industrial training boards in the 1960s and 1970s, to no support or intervention at all in the early 1990s). In response to concerns about skills shortages, especially at intermediate levels, in 1993 the Government announced plans for a new Apprenticeship scheme at Level 3 – Modern Apprenticeships. Prototypes were introduced the following year and the scheme became fully operational in 1995. The Modern Apprenticeship was focused almost entirely on occupational competence, and did not require specific technical learning.

Since 1997 a number of the programme elements have been reformed.

  • In 1998, the Training Standards Council (subsequently the Adult Learning Inspectorate) began an inspection of work-based learning providers. In 2007, responsibility for inspection was transferred to Ofsted.
  • Level 2 Apprenticeships were introduced in 2000.
  • In 2000, the LSC took on responsibility for funding Apprenticeships from the Training and Enterprise Councils.
  • The technical certificate was introduced in 2003/04 to explicitly require theoretical knowledge from Apprentices (and, implicitly, structured off-workstation training).
  • The Apprenticeships family was re-branded in 2004.
  • The Apprenticeships blueprint was introduced in 2005 to provide updated guidance for Sector Skills Councils on how to define their Apprenticeship frameworks.

The result of these changes, coupled with the increased investment made by the Government since 1997, has been a major improvement in the number of Apprentices and in the quality of Apprenticeships. There were 279,700 Apprenticeship starts in the 2009/10 academic year in England, compared to 239,900 in 2008/09. Completion rates – which once indicated severe problems with recruitment practice and quality – have been transformed. 171,500 people successfully completed an Apprenticeship in 2009/10 compared to 143,400 in 2008/09; completion rates were 74% in 2009/10 compared to 37% in 2004/05.

In January 2008 a new organisation, the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), was announced and officially launched in April 2009. The service was created to bring about a significant growth in the number of employers offering Apprenticeships.

The NAS has total end to end responsibility for the delivery of Apprenticeships that includes: Employer Services; Learner Services; and a web-based vacancy matching system (Apprenticeship vacancies). This online system enables individuals to search and apply for live vacancies and allows employers, and their training providers to advertise their vacancies to a wide range of interested applicants.

The service has ultimate accountability for the national delivery of targets and co-ordination of the funding for Apprenticeship places. It acts to overcome barriers to the growth of the programme and assumes responsibility for promoting Apprenticeships and their value to employers, learners and the country as a whole.

School leavers scramble for apprenticeships

Thousands of A-level students awarded top grades today will be waking up to the grim reality in the morning of a dwindling jobs market and fierce competition for university places.

Engineering skills council Semta said technically capable candidates were often lured towards other sectors such as banking.

By Louisa Peacock

Of those who choose to enter the labour market for the first time, the majority will likely struggle to find a decent job. Hundreds of bright young minds face being turned down from their ideal employer because of the sheer scramble for work.

The Government’s National Apprenticeship Service website, which lists apprenticeship vacancies, received 691,590 applications from young people for apprenticeships over the past year – a 158pc rise compared with the previous 12 months, figures reveal. The surge in demand is partly linked to fears over rising graduate debt, experts say.

However, just one in eight employers offers the on-the-job training scheme nationwide. In the engineering sector – said to be crying out for more skilled workers – just a quarter of businesses are prepared to hire apprentices.
A flood of recent studies from the CBI, manufacturers’ body the EEF and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows companies struggle to recruit appropriate candidates, claiming skills shortages will hamper their ability to grow. According to the CIPD, however, employers should stop moaning about Britons’ lack of skills and do something about it.
Katerina Rudiger, the group’s skills adviser, said: “Employers tend to complain a lot about skills shortages, saying people don’t have the right skills, but employers nationwide need to take on more responsibility for training their own talents She added: “Clearly it’s not that people aren’t applying to companies – and they can’t all be lacking in skills.”

Earlier this week, BP became the latest business to claim a dearth of engineers in the UK was threatening to hold back business growth. The oil giant’s North Sea boss, Trevor Garlick, told The Sunday Telegraph BP struggled to recruit the right people to fill hundreds of vacancies.
But the company said it was recruiting just 25 apprentices for its North Sea operation this year. BP, which employs about 10,000 staff in the UK, is recruiting up to a further 10 apprentices nationwide and about 150 graduates to plug skills gaps.

Ms Rudiger pointed to the likes of Rolls-Royce and Siemens, which hire “a lot more” apprentices than BP at 200 and 100 per year respectively. Businesses that suffer from skills shortages should consider increasing the volume of young people they recruit to “home-grow talent”, she said.
“Apprenticeships are not the panacea to all our skills problems, but are a good alternative to university. Companies should be seeing apprenticeships as part of their workforce planning,” she said.

As companies continue to be swamped by applications for their apprenticeship schemes – BT says it has received 19,600 applications so far for about 500 places and Network Rail 8,000 applications for 200 places – Ms Rudiger asks whether more should be done to make the most of those capable young people who lose out.

The call comes as official figures show unemployment surged in the three months to June by almost 40,000, to 2.49m, compared to the previous quarter. One in five young people is out of work.

The CBI suggests larger companies should work with small to medium-sized enterprises to offer their training facilities to help them recruit and develop the staff they need.

Rolls-Royce is already building an apprentice academy in Derby, which will allow the group to hire as many as 200 young people to train for work in its supply chain and the manufacturing industry in the East Midlands.
Other employers, however, say they simply do not have the resources to do something similar. Network Rail, for example, said suppliers were welcome to use its training centre in theory but questioned whether it would have the space.

James Fothergill, head of skills at the CBI, said: “Large employers need some degree of support to make this happen. But research shows across organisations the return employers get from employing an apprentice.
“Big employers should at the very least consider redirecting rejected – but good – candidates towards small firms that desperately needed specific skills but did not attract as many applications in their own right. Good candidates are likely to slip through the net unless they are made aware of different opportunities in industry.”

The engineering and manufacturing skills council Semta said technically capable candidates, who had studied engineering, maths or science at A-level, were often lured towards other sectors such as banking rather than working in a role aligned to their qualifications.

Lynn Tomkins, Semta’s UK operations director, said that because so many young people were rejected from school-leaver schemes at household-name employers, such as BAE Systems or Dyson, they tended to lose faith in the sector without considering jobs at smaller firms in the supply chain.
Semta is currently running a trial scheme to match skilled workers to employers looking for specific expertise. There is no point urging young people to study engineering-related subjects if, when they apply for positions, they are turned down without knowing where to go next, Ms Tomkins said.