65 apprentices have signed up with Walsall Council and local authority maintained schools since 1 May 2017, following changes introduced under the Apprenticeship Levy and the Enterprise Act.
This figure includes: three Care Leavers who have progressed through the council’s Positive Action Scheme to apprenticeships within the Money, Home, Job and Early Help and the Virtual School Teams and 24 apprentices who have been recruited to schools which accessed the Apprenticeship Levy.
These successes have been achieved by the Learning and Development Team, part of the council’s Human Resources Team, in support of the authority’s Corporate Workforce Strategy 2017-2020. This project aims to ensure that the council’s workforce has the right skills and behaviours, is ready for the future and reflects the communities the councile serves.
Councillor Sean Coughlan, Leader of Walsall Council, said:
“Our staff are our greatest asset and Walsall Council’s successes are a reflection of our staff, their commitment and their professionalism in helping us achieve our priorities.”
“Our Workforce Strategy recognises that the success of our organisation depends upon attracting, developing and retaining talent, and having the right infrastructure and rewards approach in place in order to do so. Our innovative approach to apprenticeships is generating real success for local people.”
16 of the council’s aspiring managers attended a presentation by Wolverhampton University to find out more about the Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship. The apprenticeship programme offers relevant staff the opportunity to undertake a quality degree, gain on-the-job experience and pursue a professional pathway for future development. The degree was developed by employers in partnership with a number of higher education institutions and the Chartered Management Institute.
In addition to these successes, Walsall Council have been invited to join the Apprenticeship Diversity Network and asked to speak about itsr Widening Participation initiatives to Funding Agency staff at their team meeting.
The council is also a key player in driving the West Midlands Apprenticeship Levy Group Network. This was set up by ten local councils in November 2017 and is supported by the Local Government Association. The network enables the councils to share best practice about apprenticeships.
These achievements follow changes in May 2017 to the funding of apprenticeships in England which sought to simplify existing arrangements, making it easier for employers to shape and select the apprenticeship training they wanted to purchase.
Apprentice Zara Khan said: “An apprenticeship is great because if you’re a young person who’s never worked before, it gives you a head start in a professional working environment. Also in three years time, you’ll have some money saved up and no uni fee debt to worry about”.
Training Officer Hannah Hewston Jones said: “As an existing member of staff the Apprenticeship Levy has opened up new opportunities for staff to update their skills and learn new things which will enable us to modernise the way we work”.